The term “All’s well that ends well” is a phrase that goes back to 1500s, and it usually has a positive connotation. But in the case of the United States entry at the FIFA World Cup, things certainly did not end well. Five minutes of extra time were awarded at the end of its match against Portugal, and that was just barely enough, from the Portuguese perspective.
There’s a tiny Portuguese enclave in Provincetown, Massachusetts that must have erupted with joy as the tying goal (or the “equalizer” as the announcers seem to want to call these things) was headed home by Silvestre Varela. But for the rest of this nation–or the part that’s paying attention to the World Cup, at least–the artistry of Varela’s goal was surpassed only by the sting of what it means. A win would have advanced the U.S. to the final rounds of the tournament, and rendered its coming match with Germany as little more than an exhibition. But now, everything’s different.
A win against Germany on Thursday will mean that the USA advances anyway. And the Germans have already advanced, so they may not have the same pressure on them. But there’s no reason to expect that the Germans will let up, either.
If Ghana and Portugal play to a tie in their game on Thursday, it won’t matter because the Americans will then move on. But all of the other potential outcomes are now back in play (no pun intended), as a result of Varela’s goal. Soccer will matter on Thursday, in a way that it rarely does in this country. It should be interesting to watch.