As much as the United States had hoped for a second consecutive World Cup victory Monday, American coach Bruce Arena knew that he had better be happy with what he had.
"We played against an entire nation today," he said. "I'm going to take it and get out of town," he said.
What he had was a tie with South Korea, a team that had far more chances than the Americans and enjoyed the support of more than 60,000 chanting fans in their nation's largest stadium. United States goalkeeper Brad Friedel preserved the tie by stopping a series of potential goals, including a penalty kick.
The 1-1 draw in Daegu left both South Korea and the United States in good position to advance to the second round of the World Cup.
Across the Sea of Japan, meanwhile, the other co-hosting nation enjoyed good news when Belgium was held to a 1-1 tie by Tunisia in Oita. That left Japan on top of Group H with one game to play.
The evening came to a close during a pouring rain in Jeonju with Portugal, showing the kind of form it failed to demonstrate in its surprising loss to the United States last week, knocking Poland out of contention with a 4-0 victory -- an outcome that was just what the Americans were hoping for.
Monday's games ended the second round of group action with only Spain and Brazil having wrapped up a spot in the second round. Over the next four days, the final group games will be held and the matchups for the knockout phase will be determined. Tension-packed contests await during those four days, beginning Tuesday with the defending champion French facing what would be very unexpected elimination against Denmark.
The U.S.-South Korea match had been built up by the home country's media as being one heavy with political overtones and even the government issued statements urging fans not to display anti-American sentiment.
That pre-game concern appeared to be overblown as there were no major incidents. Outside the stadium Monday, Korean fans mingled with the small contingent of American supporters and many of the local residents wanted to have their pictures taken with Americans huge hats or dressed in Elvis Presley garb. And after the game, the crowd dispersed without problems.
The game itself left the United States side pleased and relieved and the South Korean team disappointed.
"It was a difficult game, but I am happy with the point," Arena said. "Korea's fitness is outstanding. Most people, a month ago, would not have believed the United States would get four points in our first two matches. One hundred percent of the people would have said no."
"I think a draw tastes a little bit less for us," South Korean coach Guus Hiddink said, "because I think we deserved to win. We created beautiful chances. We had five or six open chances and we didn't make them. That's why I am not smiling."
Clint Mathis put the United States ahead in the 24th minute with his 10th international goal, a sliding right footer that briefly silenced the Korean crowd.
From that point, the Americans had to withstand an almost constant assault. That included a questionable penalty kick, taken by Lee Eul Yong in the 40th minute. But Friedel guessed correctly to his right and became the first goalkeeper in this World Cup to stop a penalty kick.
"I felt he was going to go that way for some reason, who knows why," Friedel said. "I think (the referee) saw a lot of legs kind of tangled, four bodies right there. But I think it was the other way around.
"The Korean player had hold of Jeff's (Agoos) jersey, not the other way around. But saying that, justice was done."
Friedel made nine saves, including a pair from point-blank range in the second half.
"I want to give credit to the goalkeeper," Hiddink. "He played 100 percent."
But Friedel could do nothing about a header from in close by Ahn Jung Hwan in the second half that found the top, right corner of the net.
"If someone had said you can have four points going into the third game, I would have taken it," Friedel said. "It was a great atmosphere today. Ever since we got here, the South Koreans have been very friendly, always waving to us and not hostile at all. It was a good atmosphere, not a hostile one."
After South Korea and the United States played, they turned their attention to the evening match involving the other two teams in their group. And in that one, the Americans had to like what they saw.
Pedro Pauleta produced a hat trick for Portugal in a driving rainstorm that finally eased in the second half but still left the field slippery and dangerous.
The final games in Group D will be played next Friday with South Korea having to play the suddenly in-form Portuguese and the United States getting to play the already-eliminted Poles. No matter what happens in the South Korea-Portugal match, the United States can advance to the second round with a tie or win against Poland.
But even a loss to Poland would not necessarily eliminate the Americans. They would still go through if South Korea wins its game or if Portugal wins by a big enough score for the United States to overcome its current one-goal deficit with South Korea in the differential department.
In Group H, the Japanese celebrated Belgium's 1-1 tie with Tunisia. Japan remains at the top of the group with four points, a position earned with Sunday's 1-0 victory over Russia that touched off rioting in parts of Moscow. Russia has three points, Belgium two and Tunisia one.
The Japanese will advance to the second round if they can merely tie Tunisia when they play Friday. The winner of the Russia-Belgium game will advance as well with a tie favoring Russia.
Action in Group A and Group E comes to an end Tuesday with most of the attention focused on France, which has yet to score a goal and has just one point thanks to an 0-0 tie with Uruguay last week.
Denmark and Senegal go into the final day with four points while Uruguay and France have one each. In order to stay alive in the tournament, France must defeat Denmark by at least two goals when they play in Incheon. Senegal needs only a tie with Uruguay in Suwon to move on to the second round.
In Group E, Germany and Cameroon lead with four points each while Ireland has two and Saudi Arabia has been eliminated with no points.
Germany and Cameroon play in Shizuoka and Cameroon almost certainly needs a win to advance. Ireland is expected to beat Saudi Arabia, which would leave the Irish with five points. Cameroon would reach five points with a tie against Germany, but would miss out on the second round because both Germany's and Ireland's goal differential would be larger.