Back by popular request for potentially his last run out in the World Cup is Andy Mack with his view from downtown Manhattan on the mood in the US Camp for their game against Belgium.
Many questions coming into this game needed to be answered: How much time will Jozy Altidore play? (Zero.) How would the Belgian attack look? (Strong.) Could the US see enough of the ball to pull off the upset? (Almost.) We would have our answers after a grueling 120 minute affair.
1. Tim Howard – How could we start with anyone else? US goalkeeper Tim Howard gave one of the most courageous performances in World Cup history. Tim broke the record for most saves in a World Cup match with 16, and the US needed every one of them to stay in the match. Howard was named Man of the Match, even in defeat. To put things in perspective, Belgian defender and captain Vincent Kompany tweeted after the match “Two Words.. Tim Howard #Respect #BelUSA”
2. Belgian Dominance – The even possession numbers masked the fact that the Belgians seemed to have virtually all of the best chances to score throughout the match. The last ten minutes of regulation time had the Americans holding on and hoping for extra time. The insertion of Roman Lukaku into the Belgian attack provided the Red Devils the spark in the final third that impacted both goals. The goals, and win, were well deserved.
3. Wondo…. OH NO – Many US fans knew that chances were going to be few and far between. The only path to victory was to take advantage of any scoring chances that the Belgians may concede. That single moment came in stoppage time when the ball came down on the foot of Chris Wondolowski in the 6 yard box with only the keeper to navigate. With only charging keeper Thibaut Courtois to beat, Wondolowski skied the ball over the net. The way the game played out, you could feel that this would come back to haunt the US.
4. Klinsmann Making Great Moves – US coach Jurgen Klinsmann proved that he truly understands this team with impactful substitutions during the match. With Fabian Johnson forced to exit with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, Klinsmann looked to Deandre Yeldin. Yeldin’s speed proved to be menacing down the sideline, causing problems for the Belgian defense. With Chris Wondolowski having the chance to be a hero and Julian Green’s late goal, all three of Klinsmann’s substitutions were impactful.
5. Heads Held High – The US should walk away from this match with their heads held high. This team proved to have the grit and guts that has been the staple of US soccer for decades. Losing to a Belgian side (who, going into the tournament, was considered a dark horse to win it all) is not something to be ashamed of. The US will need to pair their resilient mentality with a better touch in the midfield in order to take the next step in their progression of becoming a top team. Belgium will be moving on to face Argentina in the quarterfinals, which appears to be a matchup of two teams who have yet to fire on all cylinders.
The Beer World Cup
The beautifully crafted Delirium Tremens has the sophistication to edge out the bold, brash, Brooklyn Lager by the same score line.
Belgium 2 US 1