Portugal 1-1 United States

A young and inexperienced American side looking for hope following the disastrous 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign put Portugal to the test in their final match of the calendar year in Leiria.

Debutante Weston McKennie scored an impressive goal to give the visitors a deserved first half lead. 

Though Portugal improved in the 2nd half, it must be said that the outcome might have been different were it not for a howler by Ethan Horvath. Fernando Santos will have been given plenty to think about after watching his own experiment falter against the athleticism and physicality of the Americans.

Braga's Ricardo Ferreira was given his full debut and Santos opted for a speedy attacking trident with Gelson and Bruma complementing Gonçalo Guedes. Antunes took over for Kevin Rodrigues at left back while Sporting's Bruno Fernandes pulled the strings in central midfield. 

The visitors pressed high early on and forced several miscues that Portugal were a bit fortunate to escape from without incident. Both sides struggled for rhythm in the passing game with youthful exuberance all over the pitch yielding some lack of composure. 

Antunes' excellent cross from the left was cut out by Lichaj with Gelson lurking at the back post in the 7th minute. But Portugal were dealt a blow when Pepe sustained an injury to his right foot, forcing Santos to introduce Luis Neto in only the 10th minute.

Bruma mishit a presentable chance at the back-post set up by Danilo's cross while at the other end Juan Agudelo fired well wide of Beto's right hand post from long range. Beto smothered Adams' shot after good work by C.J. Sapong down the left as the Americans signaled their intent.

The opening goal quickly followed as Weston McKennie easily cut inside Ferreira to open his international account on his debut for the senior side with a routine finish. 

But Portugal equalized ten minutes later when the American keeper, Ethan Horvath, somehow let Antunes' cross squirm underneath him and into the back of the net. Manuel Fernandes was next to test the young shot-stopper with a dipping effort from 25 yards.

Horvath offered up another chance for Portugal in the 39th minute when Danilo seized onto his poor distribution, but his blushes were spared when the Porto midfielder directed his shot straight into the keeper's mitts.

The visitors probably should have taken the lead minutes before halftime when John Brooks arrived ahead of Beto to meet a corner, but the referee spotted a minor and unnecessary foul by Matt Miazga. Rather unlike the first half against Saudi Arabia four days prior, the Seleção were fortunate to still be on level terms at halftime. Tactically and physically Portugal were lacking.

Gonçalo Paciência made his Portugal debut after the break with Gelson making way. But Portugal made no discernible improvement in the early going and Beto made a spectacular flying save to deny a Tyler Adams header after Ferreira allowed a cross from the right to get beyond him.

Beto was called upon yet again minutes later to stop an outside of the boot shot from Eric Lichaj at his near post. The resulting corner kick was thudded against the crossbar by Weston McKennie in a manic spell for Portugal.

As Portugal struggled for balance, Bruma gained a yard of space to fire in a shot that substitute keeper Hamid easily gathered in the 56th minute. Fernando Santos introduced Bernardo Silva and Ruben Neves minutes later to wrestle back control of midfield.

Steadily Portugal regained some composure and Paciência rattled the woodwork after being teed up by Bernardo Silva in the 69th minute. But Portugal still looked vulnerable on set pieces, and Beto produced a spectacular kick save to deny Carter-Vickers at point blank range to keep the score deadlocked at 1-1.

Antunes warmed the keeper's mitts with a drive from range as both sides worked hard for the winner. Rony Lopes was given his debut and very nearly laid one on a plate for João Mário in the 87th minute only for Hamid to gather at his feet.

But Portugal could not find the right combination of passes to overcome the visitor's determination and were perhaps lucky to come away with a draw in the end. Bernardo Silva's introduction elevated Portugal's threat considerably and Paciência probably should have at least hit the target with his lone chance of the game, but the result was inevitable as Portugal never found a consistent passing rhythm.

Ricardo Ferreira and Neto struggled at the heart of defence after Pepe's injury and Nelson Semedo, despite playing quite well for Barcelona, was caught out at crucial moments even while revealing his attacking threat on occasion. On this evidence, Santos' decision to not include a No9 in the first half will surely be considered a failure as Portugal's attacks lacked a focal point.

Meanwhile Beto made good use of his opportunity, showing his athleticism to hold the result for Portugal early in the second half when the defence was all at sea. 

With half of the season yet to play, Santos will certainly have time to patch up the holes and round out the World Cup squad, but it must be said the likes of Cédric, Ronaldo, William, and Adrien were greatly missed tonight. 

 

by Nathan Motz

 

Starting Lineups

Portugal: Beto, Antunes, Ferreira, Pepe (Neto, 10'), Nelson Semedo (, 62'), Danilo (Neves, 62'), Bruma (Bernardo, 62'), Gelson (Paciência, 46'), Manuel Fernandes (, 56'), Bruno Fernandes (João Mário, 46'), Gonçalo Guedes (Lopes, 81')

USA: Ethan Horvath, DeAndre Yedlin, Matt Miazga, Tyler Adams, John Brooks, Weston McKennie, Eric Lichaj, Juan Agudelo, C.J. Sapong, Danny Williams, Kelllyn Acosta

 

Goals:

[0-1] Weston McKennie, 21'

[1-1] Antunes, 31'

Comments (17)

  1. Trent

The midfield was non-existent in the first half without anyone like Bernardo Silva, Joao Mario, etc. to keep possession and make the smart pass. And I'd say the CB experiment was a failure as Ferreira was horrific and Neto wasn't much better....

The midfield was non-existent in the first half without anyone like Bernardo Silva, Joao Mario, etc. to keep possession and make the smart pass. And I'd say the CB experiment was a failure as Ferreira was horrific and Neto wasn't much better. It's time for Santos to scour Europe to figure out who can play CB for Portugal other than its mid-30s triumvirate. At this point I'm about ready for Ruben Dias to get a chance. Also, let's try to not play the U.S. again any time soon since Portugal always looks dreadful in those matches.

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  1. jon/usa

Overall, this was a far from convincing performance against a much hungrier US side that were looking to make a case for a spot in the senior side ahead what is sure to be a hugely important transitional phase for American soccer.

The Seleccao...

Overall, this was a far from convincing performance against a much hungrier US side that were looking to make a case for a spot in the senior side ahead what is sure to be a hugely important transitional phase for American soccer.

The Seleccao looked really lethargic throughout. They were uncharacteristically sloppy in possession and were second best at just about every 50/50. I know it's only a friendly, and I know that this was largely a makeshift, experimental squad with very little chemistry, but I was expecting to see more effort from a bunch of guys who should be using these friendlies as an opportunity to improve Fernando Santos.

Antunes was arguably our best player. He was resolute defensively and one of our biggest threats going forward. Kevin Rodrigues is Guerreiro-esque with his sharp touches and nimble movement, but Antunes looks a more solid all-around left-back. While I still feel Ricardo Pereira should have been tested at left-back, Antunes' performance should have convinced Santos that he should be ahead of Eliseu on the pecking order.

Both Bruno and Manuel Fernandes were sloppy in possession, perhaps more due to a lack of chemistry than anything else, but I still would have liked to have seen them play with far more intensity. Guedes looked lively on the ball, but he is far more effective when playing off another striker or when operating on the wing. Ricardo Ferreira had an absolute nightmare and has almost certainly guaranteed that he will be nowhere near Russia in the summer.

Nelson Semedo and Gelson, again, flatter to deceive when wearing the red and green of the Seleccao. Nelson is arguably the best right-back in Europe when he's on, but he always seems way too relaxed and disinterested when playing for Portugal compared to what we see/saw at Barca and Benfica. Gelson is another player who continues to disappoint. His link-up play is poor, his touch frequently lets him down, and he lacks the cutting edge of Quaresma or Guedes.

Bruma actually showed flashes of his undeniable quality today and he even put in a good shift defensively. And while I know this will be an unpopular and improbable decision, I would actually take Bruma over Gelson if I could only choose one to make the final squad. Bruma just looks to have a lot more cutting edge in the final third, and unlike Gelson who seems to only be able to operate as an out-an-out right-winger, Bruma has proven to excel on both wings and as a second-striker.

Barring any injuries, this is the squad I'd pick for world cup if I were Santos:

Forwards: Ronaldo, Andre Silva, Goncalo Guedes
Wingers/Attacking midfielders: Bernardo, Joao Mario, Quaresma, Bruma
Central midfielders: Moutinho, Adrien, Bruno Fernandes
Defensive Midfielders: William, Danilo
Fullbacks: Cedric, Nelson Semedo, Raphael Guerreiro, Ricardo
Center-backs: Pepe, Jose Fonte, Bruno Alves, Ruben Dias
Goalkeepers: Patricio, Lopes, Beto

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  1. George

It isn't that much of an unpopular opinion Jon - I agree wholeheartedly with pretty much everything you said; agree with Trent as well.

Good Lord what a calamitous CB pairing that was... The last time I seen a CB pairing perform that poorly was,...

It isn't that much of an unpopular opinion Jon - I agree wholeheartedly with pretty much everything you said; agree with Trent as well.

Good Lord what a calamitous CB pairing that was... The last time I seen a CB pairing perform that poorly was, ironically enough, against the USA in Brazil. I still have nightmares of Bruno Alves and Ricardo Costa together. But, much like in Brazil, Beto was there today to save our skin with some spectacular saves throughout the game. If there's one person who earned their place in Russia tonight, it's Beto. His previous experience, coupled with performances like that mean he's a sure thing as a backup GK.

Antunes was clearly our other MOTM but I hesitate to go as far as to say that his spot in Russia is "guaranteed" because Kevin Rodrigues played quite well in his debut as well. There weren't too many positives to take away from this match in particular, but, it appears as though our options at LB aren't quite as dire as we once thought.

Now, in contrast, our other three defenders? Ricardo Ferreira, Luis Neto, and Nelson Semedo? They were a disaster. I agree with Jon's sentiment on Semedo. When is this guy going to show up for the Selecao? You can't make a team based on reputation alone - at some point you have to start producing for the team in question, and, at this point, I can't say he's been better than Cedric, Joao Cancelo, or Ricardo Pereira. Although he has his moments, he takes far too many risks out there and is shaky defensively; looks like a schoolboy playing freestyle football at recess sometimes. That might work at Barcelona (for obvious reasons) but it's not going to work for us. We need to see his best, and soon, if he's going to merit a place in Russia.

You never wanna see a player come off injured, but, Pepe leaving the pitch was probably a blessing in disguise. It gave us a glimpse of what's to come in a worst case scenario, and boy, it wasn't pretty. I could go into all the mistakes, but quite literally, there wasn't much Ferreira and Neto did well tonight. With each passing match, I find myself wanting to see Danilo at CB more and more. BUT, I will say this - there are a couple of other options as well. I liked what I saw from Edgar Ie in the limited time he got against the Saudis: he was quick, composed, eager to move the ball forward, and covered for Ricardo well when he ran up the pitch. Ie and Ricardo looked like they had pretty good chemistry with each other. I hope to see him get more time in our March (?) friendlies with Pepe and Ricardo alongside him. There is also Ruben Dias who's playing well and deserves to get a shot sooner rather than later. I think some people will say that we shouldn't rush his development by plucking him away from the U21s, but, the kid is already starting for Benfica and putting in quality performances against Manchester United in the Champions League... so... I don't quite understand what we're protecting him from. CB is a huge problem, but, I maintain that the quality is out there. We just have to find it, or, in the case of Ie and Dias, be bold enough to embrace it.

I have more to say but don't have the time right now - might check in again to finish my thoughts. I do have a question for our American friends though: Has Fox/ESPN declared the USA European Champions after drawing Portugal today? Because I expect the "Portugal sucks" narrative to be out there soon. That is, if it isn't out there already...

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  1. Paulo    George

The game commentators did a good job of knowing the Portuguese players and didn't get carried away with the US performance. And they spoke of when Portugal were controlling the game. They did mention several times Portugal ranked third in FIFA...

The game commentators did a good job of knowing the Portuguese players and didn't get carried away with the US performance. And they spoke of when Portugal were controlling the game. They did mention several times Portugal ranked third in FIFA and however, that this was not the "A" team, but some of the players were part of the main team. They also mentioned Portugal are European Champions. So over all it was a fairly balanced commentary during the game. They definitely were not saying that the US team was great and that friendlies are hard to judge, but the players try to showcase there ability.

After the humbling by Trinidad and Tobago, I doubt the US commentators are going to over blow a friendly. But of course they were optimistic with the performance.

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  1. Ash

Ricardo Ferreira - yikes, what a nightmare
Nelson Semedo is world class for club but is bang average for Portugal.
Antunes is solid and so superior to Eliséu.
I’m severely disappointed we didn’t use these games to test Danilo at CB and Ricardo at...

Ricardo Ferreira - yikes, what a nightmare
Nelson Semedo is world class for club but is bang average for Portugal.
Antunes is solid and so superior to Eliséu.
I’m severely disappointed we didn’t use these games to test Danilo at CB and Ricardo at LB. One injury to Pepe and our tournament is over.
Gonçalo Guedes was excellent but should never play as a lone striker.
Manuel Fernandes was the best player over both legs. He’s the one who will have the greatest outside chance to make the squad especially since the Adrien situation is unclear.

If I had to choose today my team would be
Rui Patrício, Anthony Lopes, Beto
Semedo, Cédric, Pepe, Fonte, Danilo, Ié, Guerreiro, Ricardo
William, Neves, Moutinho, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Mario, Manuel Fernandes/Adrién(?)
Ronaldo, Andre Silva, Guedes, Bernardo, Quaresma, Gelson/Bruma(?)

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  1. Neville

Wow, another game over, what we learnt.
I would not criticise any player, as they all wanted to show their prowess to be part of the world cup team. They all need another chance with the main squad.
The most important is to have consistent...

Wow, another game over, what we learnt.
I would not criticise any player, as they all wanted to show their prowess to be part of the world cup team. They all need another chance with the main squad.
The most important is to have consistent players in the squad and filling the gaps left out by the older players.
The guaranteed places in the squad
Forwards: Ronaldo, Eder
Wingers/Attacking midfielders: Bernardo, Joao Mario, Adrien Silva, Quaresma, Manuel Fernandes, Gonçalo Guedes
Fullbacks: Cedric, Raphael Guerreiro, Antunes, Eliseu
Center-backs: Pepe, Jose Fonte, Bruno Alves
Goalkeepers: Patricio, Lopes
Eder will be Fernando Santos trump card and will be part of the WC squad.
Adrien Silva will be back in the squad after his return to the Club.

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  1. SupremoGino

I agree more or less with what Ash wrote. Antunes is a solid full back that the selecção has undervalued for far too long. He's the perfect back-up for Guerreiro.. if Coentrão isn't injured come next summer and that's a big if. The man has missed...

I agree more or less with what Ash wrote. Antunes is a solid full back that the selecção has undervalued for far too long. He's the perfect back-up for Guerreiro.. if Coentrão isn't injured come next summer and that's a big if. The man has missed more matches than he's played his entire career. The other guy's name doesn't need to be mentioned any more at this point.

Not much to say regarding the match. I thought Bernardo Silva could have taken on defenders or played a 1-2. Be a little more selfish when you possess so much quality. He has a pass first mind set always and it was getting too predictable watching him through the television. Never hurts to have a willing passer, but playing together with Joao Mario who also is pass first will have us struggling to score goals again. Andre Silva not getting regular minutes at Milan doesn't help matters and Ronaldo can't be overburdened. On the other hand, Gonçalo Paciência is overly selfish. Manuel Fernandes I was impressed with both games and certainly this cant be his last appearance for Portugal. Joe mentioned in the previous article, an outside the box shooter like Maniche. I see the correlation there. It could work.

Bruma is very speedy and strong like Hulk. Gelson is the free styling type .. wants to emulate Quaresma but is losing his spot in the process. Also want to give a special shout out to Marcos "Rony" Lopes for graciously accepting his 10 minute cameo. You could see his eyes lit up when Fernando Santos called his number. This kid has an enormous love for Portugal it's so clear. There's no way he's repping Brazil. Not a chance in hell. There's something different and special about him. With all due respect to Deco and Pepe - they are Brazilian rejects. They would take Brazil in a heartbeat but Rony has been all in with us since the very beginning.. and I look forward to see him help Portugal later down the road.

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  1. Ozzy solis

This is my World Cup squad
Forwards:CR7,Guedes,Silva,Nani
Midfielders:Bernardo Silva, quaresma, bruma,Joao Mario, moutinho, carvalho, Danilo, Manuel fernandes, adrien Silva
Defenders: Cedric, Ricardo, guerreiro, Antunes, Pepe, Edgar ie, Jose...

This is my World Cup squad
Forwards:CR7,Guedes,Silva,Nani
Midfielders:Bernardo Silva, quaresma, bruma,Joao Mario, moutinho, carvalho, Danilo, Manuel fernandes, adrien Silva
Defenders: Cedric, Ricardo, guerreiro, Antunes, Pepe, Edgar ie, Jose fonte, Ruben semedo
Gk: Patricio, lopes, Beto

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  1. joe

Not concerned about the result and I dont think Santoa was either. He was tring new players again and more interestingly and somewhat unsuccessfully different formations than we usually see and what you saw against the Saudis. I think the combo...

Not concerned about the result and I dont think Santoa was either. He was tring new players again and more interestingly and somewhat unsuccessfully different formations than we usually see and what you saw against the Saudis. I think the combo of that amd so many changes again made for a disconjointed display where passing interplay was poor....the other was that once Pepe went off we looked disorganized at the back and their goal was a result...had Pepe been on...no goal. Also and some have mentioned...the USA was far hungrier and worked harder which is why the one more 50/50 and why poor clearances silly errand passes resulted in really their only good chances. I was good for us to play against a direct and very athletic team.

As far as the players that were being tried out...it would have been nice to see them in the 442 versus a new fornation as they looked out of sink. Bruma did good work and should his season go well...i would be suprised not to see him going. Antunes or rodrigues...a toss up really...both did well...edgar Ie certainly had a better outing than r.ferreira, wow he had a wobbler last night. Semedo was poor in first half and much better in 2nd half...he looks nervous and ferreira and the mids didnt help him to much by playing passes to him constantly with no out ball and them closing down....must have happened 10 times.
I thought manuel fernandes did well again and was the only.mid to actually try to unlock.their press and again get forward into attacking positions...b. fernandes did not look good last night and for me was not in his position....he should have been further forward...I worry he might not make it because of moutinho, adrein or a.gomes...even though if played in his position has more to offer...but lets see.

Neto as I have posted before is hit and miss and like someone posted...start looking for another CB...Pepe, Ie, fonte if fit and one more....??

Alot of players are close but still young..neves is quality but 20..sanches is 20...rony lopes is 22...they will surely be apart of the next cycle but it might just be too soon for them and in Sanches case...unless he has an incredible rest of season...its the same.

This is my list based on current form, qualifying and friendlies.

Gks...Patricio, lopes, beto
Defenders...Pepe, Ie, Fonte, Guerriero, semedo, perreira, cancelo, k. Rodrigues
Midfielders...danilo, william, m.fernandes, b.fernandes, j.mario
Forwards...b.silva, a.silva, ronaldo, quaresma, guedes, bruma, g.martins

i put cancelo in becuade he can play right midfield as well as right back and he has been for valencia and now inter.
He could be taken out for lets say moutinho or another central defender. I left cedric off becuase he didnt play and I still feel that between cancelo, perreira and semeso there i more qaulity. A.gomes or r.sanches could usurp b.fernandes depending on their seasons form and march friendlies.

Attacking wise this selection seems obvious based on club and country and is very fluid as all of them can occupy several roles. I suppose Nani could make a claim of his season goes well but as of now....he just returned from injury and is not even a regular sub on a lazio team...you cont justify his selection and leave off g.martins and bruma.

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  1. Paulo6

I really hope Portugal wins the World Cup!.

BUT...... I am going to make a bold prediction (I am not being big sarcastic at all.. ya right), the WC winner will be Brazil, Germany, France, Argentina ,or Spain.
It makes me sick to my stomach to...

I really hope Portugal wins the World Cup!.

BUT...... I am going to make a bold prediction (I am not being big sarcastic at all.. ya right), the WC winner will be Brazil, Germany, France, Argentina ,or Spain.
It makes me sick to my stomach to say that.
BUT CMON does any one else ever win the WC.

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  1. Nathan    Paulo6

Paulo, I'll narrow that list down a bit further by saying that Argentina won't be anywhere near the winner's podium at this World Cup. In spite of Lionel Messi, that squad is way too disjointed and lacks solidarity/belief. They'll make the...

Paulo, I'll narrow that list down a bit further by saying that Argentina won't be anywhere near the winner's podium at this World Cup. In spite of Lionel Messi, that squad is way too disjointed and lacks solidarity/belief. They'll make the knockout rounds on talent alone, but they won't win.

As for the rest of your list, you're probably right to say that those teams have the best chance but remember they all had to win for the first time. Even Spain never won a WC until their Golden Generation finally did in South Africa (2010). France also has just one lone victory courtesy of their Golden Generation led by Zidane.

Now Portugal have a new Golden Generation coming of age. It remains to be seen whether we can go further than the old Golden Generation of Figo, Rui Costa, etc. But my point is that when the stars align just so, teams that never won before will have their chance. France took advantage of this, so did Spain, now I think we have to follow suit.

If everyone stays healthy and with Andre Silva, Bernardo Silva, and Goncalo Guedes adding more firepower to the same basic squad that won Euro 2016, we have a real chance.

As I've written before, this will probably be the best chance for Portugal to win a WC in my lifetime.

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  1. Neville    Paulo6

What was your prediction Paulo6 at Euro 2016.

What is most important is how you play as a team and the determination to win it. C Ronaldo has the determination and charisma who can motivate the team and lift the world cup 2018.

The two...

What was your prediction Paulo6 at Euro 2016.

What is most important is how you play as a team and the determination to win it. C Ronaldo has the determination and charisma who can motivate the team and lift the world cup 2018.

The two friendlies that were played was to find ways to strengthen the Portugal squad by Fernando Santos

Fernando Santos squad for World Cup 2018 will be from the winning EURO 2016 leaving behind some few.

C Ronaldo has nothing to loss but to win the WC 2018, to complete his achievements and that of the Portuguese fans.

Pepe is an equally determined player who will play his best at the WC 2018 to lift the cup.

Be Positive and support the team

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  1. joe

We have a strong and deep enough squad to compete with the favourites now with the new generation just starting to come of age, i.e. william, j.mario, b.silva,

However, i have wrote before that these players along with cancelo, guerriero, andre...

We have a strong and deep enough squad to compete with the favourites now with the new generation just starting to come of age, i.e. william, j.mario, b.silva,

However, i have wrote before that these players along with cancelo, guerriero, andre silva, semedo, guedes, b.fernandes and then add neves and sanches who are all not even close to their prime yet...Russia will be good but 2020 euro and 2022 WC will be the stongest portugal squad ever seen as all these players will be in prime amd I am sure some outliers.

Also, i always keep track of upcoming players and between u19 and u21 currently there is another squad full of real talent that are amazing and like neves and sanches especially in the u19 squad ready to be in the u21.

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