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World Cup Recap: USA vs. Belgium

The favorite has struggled in every match of the round of 16 and the trend continued in Salvador as the United States and Belgium had to play beyond 90 minutes to decide who would advance into the quarterfinals.

The game began negatively for the Americans, just minutes from the starting whistle goalkeeper Tim Howard was forced to make a goal save.  The United States settled down and was able to even  up the action and keep the explosive Belgian attack relatively under control.

After an injury to midfielder Fabian Johnson, USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann was forced to make a sub and bring in 21-year old DeAndre Yedlin.  The youngster did not disappoint and his tremendous pace provided a spark on both defense and offense.

The second half started once again with an important opportunity for the Europeans, but unlike in the first half, the onslaught continued.  Tim Howard’s goal was under siege for most of the second 45 minutes.  The veteran keeper was forced to make close to 15 saves just to keep the game scoreless.

The lack of ability to finish in front of goal from the Belgians combined with the great night Howard had under the three posts resulted in the fifth overtime game of the eight played in this round of 16.

Belgium’s 20 plus shots in regular time, but failed to finish inside the net.  It took just three minutes into the first half of extra time for Kevin De Bruyne to put the Europeans on ahead.  Romelu Lukaku, the Belgian and Chelsea striker, entered the game to start the extra periods and transformed Belgium’s attack.  He provided De Bruyne with the assist for the first goal and beat Howard just eight minutes later for the second.

When the result seemed all but certain, like they have done time and time again, the Americans not only responded but displayed their best soccer of the tournament.

Julian Green, whose call-up was questioned, entered the game and on his first touch scored to bring the Americans closer on the scoreboard.  The best chance to tie came in the 114th minute when a brilliantly executed set piece left Clint Dempsey by himself in front of goal only to be denied by Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Cortouid.

After taking close to 40 shots in the game, Belgium was a deserving winner, but the American resiliency provided a memorable final 15 minutes that exemplified why this World Cup has been so entertaining.

The U.S. is eliminated in extra time in the round of 16 stage for the second consecutive tournament.  Belgium’s golden generation survives and advances into the quarter finals where they will now face Argentina.

Luis Gonzalez may be reached at [email protected]

 

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World Cup Recap: USA vs. Belgium