belgium-united states

Here is what I wrote about the USA before the start of the tournament (emphasis added):

They aren’t a bad team, and in another group, they might be favored to advance. In 2002, they upset Portugal and lost to Germany largely because of poor officiating. The controversy over the absence of Landon Donovan is overblown … yes, Landon would have been a nice addition to the bench, yes, you can probably name someone on the 23-man roster who isn’t as good as Donovan is right now, but Landon Donovan was unlikely to have an impact in Brazil, and the whining of his fans has become tiresome. The Americans’ progress in Brazil will be pretty much the same as it would be if Donovan was on the roster. People talk about him as if he is as vital, in 2014, to the U.S. as Ronaldo is to Portugal or Luis Suárez is to Uruguay. It is no disrespect to Donovan, or to the U.S. soccer program, to note that Landon Donovan at his peak was still a level below the Ronaldos and Suárezes.

Best case scenario for the Americans? They beat Ghana, face Portugal-minus-Ronaldo and win/draw, and face Germany after the Germans have already clinched advancement and win/draw. That would be at least five points, and would be enough to advance. But if they draw or lose to Ghana, if Ronaldo is healthy, if Germany still needs a result in the final match, then zero points is also possible. And they could leave Brazil without a point and still give a good showing. The 2014 United States team can’t be judged solely on the results in Brazil.


2-1 … it was a fair result. Wrenching, but fair. As was the World Cup as a whole for the U.S., who advanced out of a tough group and gave a highly-regarded Belgian team 120 minutes of fight. People will talk about Tim Howard’s performance for a long time, and he deserves it. But it is a sign of how important he was today, that he set the record for saves. Duh, I know, but you can’t set a record for saves unless your team is constantly on the ropes. His counterpart for Belgium, Thibaut Courtois, is going to be doing this for a long time … he’s only 22 years old … and despite Howard’s great work today and throughout his career, Courtois is in the discussion for best goalkeeper in the world (as is Howard, but he’s a bit below Courtois). Courtois didn’t set a saves record today because the USA only had 5 shots on target in 120 minutes. Belgium had 17.

My son had to work today, and after a short halftime chat, he asked if I could give him real-time updates in chat. So here’s what the last 75 minutes looked like to me at the time:

  • kickoff
  • big save Howard 47’
  • 51’ much like 1st half, BEL in charge
  • 56’ BEL has all the possession
  • 60’ USA one chance in 15 minutes, Mertens out for BEL, Mirallas in … BEL 17 shots USA 3
  • 66’ USA can’t do this for 90 mins.
  • Yedlin playing well, best off. threat, but he’s a defender so leaves holes in back … most obvious time in entire Cup where they could use Landon … Wondo coming in
  • 71’ Howard saves day again
  • 72’ Wondo on for Zusi, who has disappointed today
  • 74’ Wondo seems to be playing up top, Dempsey dropped back a bit
  • 76’ Howard saves day again
  • 78’ Gonzalez hurt, only one sub left
  • Omar acting like he can play
  • two managers arm in arm on sideline
  • 79’ Howard saves day again
  • Mirallas causing problems
  • 10 saves so far for Howard
  • both teams tired, possible 40 minutes to go
  • 28,000 at Soldier Field in Chicago watching
  • Yedlin terrific
  • Besler saves game
  • corners: USA 3, BEL 230244
  • Wondo called for foul, starts bitching
  • Howard saves day again
  • corners BEL: 230245
  • crowd with USA
  • Howard saves game again
  • everyone tired
  • 3 minutes added
  • 11 saves
  • Wondo not tired
  • Wondo blows the gamewinner but the flag was up
  • very bad call he was way onside, but he missed anyway
  • extra time
  • Game summary so far: BEL almost completely dominant, Howard almost only reason game is still tied, everyone seems tired except recent subs
  • Howard 12 saves, tied for 2nd-most in a World Cup game in last 50 years
  • flag wasn’t up on Wondo, so his miss was unfortunate
  • Lukaku comes in for BEL, don’t know why he didn’t start, he’s great
  • just showed a BEL player puking
  • ref has been good
  • one minute in, Beasley cross, Jones misses header
  • Beasley has been v good
  • 2 minutes in, goal BEL
  • Yedlin still charging up right side, but right side of defense seriously overrun
  • no Altidore he’s not even warming up
  • Jones is down … 100’
  • Jones says he’s good
  • 14 saves
  • most in WC since 1966
  • Lukaku causing problems
  • Jones down again
  • ball kicked right into his broken nose
  • he’s laughing
  • 15
  • Lukaku on counter, 105’, 2-0 BEL
  • Green in for Bedoya
  • half time in extra time … Diskerud and Chandler only field players who didn’t play
  • Wondo will remember his miss
  • GREEN SCORES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 107’
  • perfect pass from Bradley, perfect run from Green
  • first non-penalty vs. BEL in Cup
  • crowd USA USA USA
  • 16
  • 10 minutes plus stoppage
  • Hazard off for BEL he’s had a good match, all subs done
  • 113’ free kick USA 30 yards out
  • trick play almost worked, BEL keeper saved day, he is best
  • 5 1/2 + stoppage to go
  • 4 1/2 + stoppage
  • Green scored on first touch of game
  • 3 minutes
  • crowd USA USA USA
  • BEL running down clock
  • 20 sec
  • one minute added
  • Klinsi not happy with that
  • time
  • 16 saves most in WC recorded history