The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) have fallen to Belgium in extra time by a score of 2-1 to finish their participation in the 2014 FIFA World Cup at the Round of 16 stage. U.S. goalkeeper had put up a spectacular performance to keep the scoreboard in zeros during the regulatory 90 minutes and send the match into extra time. But goals from Kevin de Bruyne in the first few minutes of the first half of extra time as well as a Romelu Lukaku goal with one minute left in the first period sentenced the match. German-American Julian Green gave the Americans hope early in the second half of extra time.
Belgium now advance to the quarterfinals of the World Cup where they will face Argentina on Saturday July 5th.
The Belgians started the match off quickly as the young star sensation Origi - who got a surprise start - fired a shot from a tight angle and forced goalkeeper Tim Howard into a kick save in the opening seconds of the match.
The European side kept trying to send in crosses into the box from their right side, but they were properly dealt with by either DaMarcus Beasley preventing the crosses coming in or Omar Gonazalez and Matt Besler clearing them away.
After a few minutes the American side were able to settle into the match and start passing their way forward. Michael Bradley looked to spread the ball to either Clint Dempsey up top or Alejandro Bedoya/Graham Zusi in the wide positions. Dempsey was able to turn and shoot on goal in the 20th minute forcing Belgian goalkeeper Courtois into good save in what was the first American shot on goal.
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Jurgan Klinsmann was forced to use his first of three subs in the 31st as Fabian Johnson could not continue anymore due to a hamstring injury. DeAndre Yedlin came in and took his place on the field.
The first half ended with both sides very evenly match and with the score deadlocked at zeros.
Once again it was the Belgians who came out of the locker room strongest and dominated the flow of play during the first 10-15 minutes of the second half. Mertens, who looked offside, put in a looping header two minutes into the second half that Tim Howard was able to punch over the crossbar after backtracking a few steps.
Belgium kept sending wave after wave of attacks on the U.S. goal, Origi missed a Vertonghen cross by inches, the same Origi then placed a header that forced Tim Howard into another good save. The Americans were pushed way back into their own field, all eleven player for the Stars & Stripes were pushed behind their own midfield line.
After surviving the initial onslaught from the 'Red Devils' looked to push forward on a few counterattacks, but never caused much danger on Courtois goal. Besides a couple breaks from the USMNT; Belgium kept up their pressure in search of the opening goal. Tim Howard time and time again had to be the hero to keep the Americans in the match.
The USMNT seemed to start the first half of extra time with a little more attacking conviction than the entire second. But as the Americans pushed forward Belgium was able to strike a quick counter and find the payoff for all of their pressure throughout the match.
Origi escaped down the right wing with tons of space taking advantage that Beasley was out of position, all the way up in the field. The youngster crossed the ball into de Bruyne who dribbled around three American defender and placed a strong far post shot that Howard couldn’t save.
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Following the goal the USA pushed forward even harder. But left even more spaces in the back. The ‘Red Devils’ were able to take advantage of those spaces late in the first period of extra time. Goalscorer de Bruyne dribbled into the open space and fed the ball to Lukaku who blasted the ball past Howard’s front post.
The USMNT found a lifeline early in the second period as young German-America Julian Green - who caused huge deal of controversy in his inclusion into the 23 man roster - finished off a good Michael Bradley pass in front of goal to cut the Belgian lead in half.
After the USA goal the match turned into a real back and forth thriller as Belgium knew they could not sit on the one goal lead or else the Americans would find an equalizer.
Both teams pushed forward, especially the U.S. in search of another goal but it wasn’t to be. Belgium will now move on to Brasilia the nation’s capital city where they will face Argentina on July 5th at the Estadio Nacional on July 5th for a semifinal ticket.