MANAUS, Brazil (AP) - They were less than 30 seconds away.
The Americans were about to romp into the round of 16 at the World Cup, about to walk off with their first come-from-behind win at soccer s showcase. About to advance with a game to spare. About to win consecutive World Cup games for the first time since 1930.
But they wilted in the Amazon heat and humidity.
Varela s goal on a diving header off Cristiano Ronaldo s cross on the game s last play gave Portugal a 2-2 tie Sunday on an exhausting night in the rainforest capital.
Now the Americans may need at least a point Thursday against Germany to advance to the knockout stage. They could advance with a loss, depending on the result of the Portugal-Ghana game that will be played simultaneously.
Obviously we re disappointed. But you have to look at the positives, captain Clint Dempsey said.
They fell behind early, when Geoff Cameron s wayward clearance gifted Nani a fifth-minute goal.
But Jermaine Jones exquisite 28-yard shot tucked inside the far post in the 64th minute and Dempsey s goal off his stomach in the 86th put the Americans ahead 2-1. A screaming, pro-American majority in the crowd of 40,123 was ready to party late into the steamy night.
Then Varela beat Cameron to the cross, deflating the red, white and blue-clad fans.
It was unfortunate, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. You ve got to move on.
Just like four years ago, the Americans relied on a late push. But they couldn t sustain it.
Now it s onto Recife. Nothing is decided.
They could move on. Or after all this, they could be sent home.