CHICAGO -- Thousands of fans gathered at Grant Park on Sunday to watch the United States take on Portugal in a Group G matchup with big implications. The game was an emotional adventure, as U.S. fans preparing to celebrate their team’s advancement into the knockout stage watched Portugal notch a stunning equalizer inside the final minute of stoppage time, putting the party on hold.
There was also an early goal caused by a brutal defensive mistake, a point-blank save off the goal line and a wonder strike from outside the box. U.S.–Portugal had it all … except, perhaps, a palatable result for American fans. Here are some of the sights and sounds from the wild scene in Chicago.
Fans began filing in as early as 10:30 a.m. and many were denied entry once the game began. Here is a shot of the entrance around 4:30 ET.About 20 minutes before the game, an emcee wearing a U.S. jersey began addressing the crowd. He led fans in a rendition of the ‘I believe that we will win’ chant.
U.S. fans bowed their heads and let out a collective groan when Nani put Portugal up 1-0 five minutes into the match. But in the 64th minute, Jermaine Jones’ blistering strike brought the U.S. level. Here’s the fans’ reaction to his equalizer:
Clint Dempsey’s go-ahead goal in the 81st minute elicited the loudest roar of the evening, as a singsong “U.S.A., U.S.A.” chant reverberated throughout the park.
Just as fans were pulling out their smartphones in preparation to record a raucous celebration of the USMNT’s clinched advancement into the round of 16, Silvestre Varela headed home Cristiano Ronaldo’s cross to knot the score at 2. Fans cursed and stared blankly at the 33’-by-19’ high definition screen as they tried to process how a U.S. victory had been snatched away in the last 30 seconds.
For fans at the park, Silvestre’s goal was the ultimate buzzkill. When the final whistle sounded, they turned their backs and trudged away solemnly, playing back that fateful final minute and thinking ahead to Thursday’s game against Germany.