Portugal captain helps U.S. advance, even though his team won't
Americans who cursed Cristiano Ronaldo on Sunday praised him Thursday, as his goal against Ghana gave the U.S. some breathing room as they advanced to the next round of the World Cup despite a loss to Germany.
Portugal's Ronaldo broke Americans’ hearts Sunday by setting up a goal that gave his country a 2-2 tie with the Americans. But he made up for it.
The U.S. was down 1-0 to Germany — which would prove to be the final score — when Ronaldo scored late in the Portugal-Ghana game, which had been tied at 1-1. Suddenly U.S. soccer fans had reason to love their former antagonist.
Under World Cup's complex scoring and tiebreaking system, a narrow Portugal victory would guarantee the U.S. a place in the second round, while a win by Ghana would have made their path more difficult. (The FiveThirtyEight blog explains how it all works.)
But there is a tragic ending for Ronaldo: He helped the U.S. advance to the round of 16 without advancing himself. Although the Brazilian team finished the first round of games with the same number of points as the U.S., a blowout loss to Germany in its first game gave the U.S. the tiebreakeer and knocked Brazil out of the tournament despite its win.
It was Ronaldo's 50th international goal. On Sunday's game against the U.S., he provided the assist to Silvestre Varela that resulted in that heartbreaking last-minute tie.
Fans expressed their gratitude on Twitter Thursday.
“Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 50th international goal, and did the USA a solid,” SB Soccer Nation tweeted.