Attack-minded Belgium finds way through USA, defiant Tim Howard

“It looked chaotic at times, and playing an extra 30 minutes wasn’t in the plan, but Belgium’s 2-1 win over the United States on Tuesday went about as Belgian manager Marc Wilmots scripted it. Belgium still hasn’t scored a goal this World Cup before the 70th minute, but the Red Devils were still the best team across 120 minutes of play. Both teams fielded fairly attack-minded lineups, with the U.S. playing 4-1-4-1 for the first time in the tournament. Belgium stuck with its usual 4-3-3, and all 10 field players had their moments in attack, including center back Vincent Kompany, who dribbled the length of the pitch in the 90th minute and turned it into a scoring opportunity.” SI

Belgium 2-1 USA: Belgium dominate but take ages to make the breakthrough
“USA put up a brilliant fight in extra-time, but Belgium had been the superior side for the majority. Marc Wilmots selected Divock Origi upfront, rather than the underwhelming Romelu Lukaku. Jurgen Klinsmann brought Alejandro Bedoya back into the side, and made the surprising decision to select Geoff Cameron rather than Kyle Beckerman in midfield, supposedly because of his greater mobility. This was a tremendously entertaining game, but Belgium should have put it to bed much earlier – only a tremendous goalkeeping display from Tim Howard kept USA in it.” Zonal Marking

World Cup Tactical Analysis | Belgium 2-1 USA: Sudden shift proves costly
“Although these two teams’ pre-tournament expectations were widely conflicting, both now found themselves facing off in what was being touted as a fairly balanced encounter. Belgium were expected to deliver and did with three wins and just 1 goal conceded (from the spot). The US on the other hand were expected to bow out early, but emerged ahead of Portugal & Ghana (so nearly Germany too). In a 5th round of 16 game that went into extra-time, Belgium emerged victorious, possibly deservedly, but the US could have so easily forced penalties.” Outside of the Boot

USA 1:2 Belgium – The What If Game
“In the end, it was a deserving result. The universe or fate or the soccer gods or whatever didn’t mess up and wrong the United States Men’s National Team. We didn’t play better than the other team, simple as that. And yet, how do you explain that feeling in the pit of every U.S. fans’ stomach? That sick, awful feeling that things could have been different. Soccer is a funny game. You can be clearly inferior for the entire match and still somehow win. If your defense holds and you capitalize on your lone scoring chance, then you can knock off a better side. This almost happened last night. In stoppage time of regulation, Chris Wondolowski had the ball on his foot six yards from the goal line. If he puts it in the back of the net, the United States are through to the World Cup quarterfinals. Belgium wouldn’t have deserved that, but to quote Will Munny: ‘Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it’.” Soccer Pro

Hooray for Losers
“Americans are learning how to lose, and soccer is teaching them how to do it. For the longest time, second place in any competition, domestic or international, has been regarded in the USA as a disaster of unmitigated proportions. (Third was not even worth acknowledging.) While other countries celebrated their silver or bronze medals with parties and parades, American commentators thrust microphones into the faces of the ‘losers’ and asked, sotto voce and with unconcealed disappointment, ‘What happened?’ or ‘What went wrong?’” The Paris Review – Jonathan Wilson

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