YOKOHAMA, Japan -- After escaping the most challenging setting possible, the U.S. team is closing in on an extended stay at the World Cup.
With a little luck and Brad Friedel's brilliant goalkeeping, the United States tied South Korea 1-1 Monday before 60,778 screaming, chanting, red-clad fans in Daegu, South Korea. The tie put both teams close to reaching the second round.
If the Americans tie or beat already-eliminated Poland on Friday, they move on. If South Korea ties Portugal, which routed the Poles 4-0 at Jeonju, South Korea, the co-hosts advance.
''We're fighting, biting, scratching to get to the next round,'' Friedel said after stopping a penalty kick and making several other superb saves.
''Friedel was the man of the match,'' U.S. coach Bruce Arena added.
The Americans led 1-0 as Clint Mathis, back from injury with his new Mohawk hairdo, took a pass from John O'Brien with his right foot and kicked in with his left from about 12 yards in the 24th minute.
Friedel saved that lead temporarily by knocking Lee Eul-yong's penalty kick away in the 40th, after Jeff Agoos was called for bringing down Hwang Sun-hong in the penalty area.
''They changed about three penalty shooters,'' Friedel said. ''When a left-footer takes a penalty and he's not very confident, he'll generally push it to the easier side so he doesn't miss the net.''
The American goalkeeper dived to his right for the save.
South Korea, which dominated play, tied it the 78th minute when Ahn Jung-hwan outjumped Agoos to head in a pass from Lee.
Ahn appeared to be taking the goal as revenge for an Olympic speedskating gold medal awarded to American Apolo Anton Ohno after a South Korean was disqualified. He made speedskating motions in his celebrations.
''We knew that our people still have some grudge against the United States for the skating incident, so we wanted to allay that with the goal ceremony,'' Ahn said.
Portugal, rebounding from an opening 3-2 upset by the United States, got a hat trick from Pauleta in a driving rainstorm.
''I am speechless with joy,'' he said.
Tunisia's 1-1 draw with Belgium, thanks to its first goal of the tournament, was just enough to stave off elimination and make it more difficult for the Belgians to reach the round of 16. Belgium (0-0-2), which had three ties and was eliminated at France '98, must beat Russia on Friday.
So far, only Spain and Brazil have clinched second-round berths.
At the U.S.-Korea game, fans started chanting and banging drums more than 2 1/2 hours before kickoff. Signs hanging from the upper deck included ''Hiddink! Make our dream come true!'' ''God Bless Corea'' and ''We have a dream.''
Fans on one end of the lower bowl held up white cards that formed the giant letters ''GO KOR 16!'' During the South Korean anthem, they raised a giant South Korean flag more than 125 feet long and 50 feet high.
''I didn't understand what they were saying, but they were excellent,'' U.S. forward Brian McBride said. ''You wished they were your fans.''
Guus Hiddink, the Dutchman who coaches South Korea, wished his team had rewarded those fans even more.
''We outplayed them for much of the second half,'' he said. ''I think we deserved to win, 3-1 or 4-1 even, because we created such beautiful chances.''
The United States finished last among the 32 teams in 1998 after reaching the second round at home in 1994.
Through 32 games, half the tournament, CONCACAF teams were undefeated: the United States and Costa Rica at 1-0-1, Mexico at 2-0.
Also striving for the second round on Tuesday were defending champion France, Senegal, Denmark and Uruguay in Group A; Germany, Cameroon and Ireland in Group E.
France needed to beat Denmark by two goals or become the first defending champion since Brazil in 1966 not to get out of the opening round. Senegal needed only a tie against Uruguay, which had only a small chance of advancing.
Germany would move on if it tied or beat Cameroon, which could clinch a second-round berth with a win or an Ireland loss to already-eliminated Saudi Arabia. Ireland needed a two-goal victory to move on.
Violence in Moscow after Japan's victory over Russia on Sunday night resulted in two deaths, 73 injuries and 113 people detained. Russian authorities canceled future outdoor broadcasts of the games in public squares after the rioting.
A Scottish man was in critical condition with head injuries after falling from the stands into a concrete moat in Jeonju. Another spectator, from Poland, fell from the stands at the same time and also was taken to the hospital, but was in stable condition.
Peninsula Clarion ©2015. All Rights Reserved.