After finishing second in the “Group of Death,” the USA Men’s Soccer team advanced in the 2014 World Cup to the knock-out-stage of the tournament. Tuesday, it will be USA facing a Belgium team that won Group H, can be dangerous, but not as dangerous as tournament favorites Brazil, Germany and Argentina.
This is a game that the USA can win and it would not be seen as a major upset.
So what can the USA expect from playing Belgium in Tuesday’s big game?
Belgium are very good and in many ways like Germany when it comes to grinding out wins. Having a goalie like Thibaut Courtois does make it easier, especially as its defense was missing injured starters Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen. But the Belgians also proved they sorely lacked the creative skills of Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard, who were on the bench from the start.of the World Cup.
This is a very young team and that could benefit the more experienced USA team that faced a tougher path to getting to the knock-out-round. Again, this will be a tough game for the USA but one that they can win and it would not be an upset.
The USA is 1-4-0 all-time vs. Belgium, but the teams are not total strangers in World Cup play. The first meeting between the countries came at the 1930 FIFA World Cup in Montevideo, Uruguay, a 3-0 victory for the Americans in the first-ever World Cup match for the United States.
The most recent meeting between the U.S. and Belgium was a 4-2 loss on May 29, 2013, in Cleveland, Ohio. Geoff Cameron and Clint Dempsey scored the U.S. goals in that game. Belgium is ranked 11th in the last FIFA World Rankings and the USA is 13th.
For those new to World Cup soccer, there are no draws in the knockout stage. If the score is tied at the end of regulation, the teams play 30 minutes of extra time. (The 30 minutes are guaranteed; there is no longer any “sudden death” or Golden Goal rule.) If the score is still tied, the game goes to a penalty shootout. (Some soccer statisticians consider games that go to penalties to be draws for record-keeping purposes — but the winner of the shootout advances all the same.)