FanPost

2014 World Cup: The Knockout Rounds: USA vs. Belgium

Jozy Altidore could be the key to a USA victory today - Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There has been a lot of compelling action so far in the Round of 16. Brazil continued to underwhelm in their penalty kick victory over Chile; Columbia and Costa Rica have continued their surprising run of good play; the world is out to get El Tri (or not); and France - Germany is setting up to be an epic battle for a spot in the semifinals. That continues with both matches today, although Argentina are certainly favored to move past Switzerland in the first match. Argentina hasn't impressed me much in this World Cup so I'm interested in how they approach cracking the Swiss defense.

Most folks reading this site are going to be more interested in the second match of the day ('Merica!). Our tee-time is scheduled for 4 pm and the fixture will be shown on ESPN. Hopefully ALL of the game gets televised this time (grumble). I want to give a brief preview of the action while admitting 2 things:

1. I really don't know much about this Belgian squad as a whole (although I'm sure they like beer, waffles, & chocolate)

2. I don't have the time to predict what the line-ups will be so my assumptions will probably be off

Belgium

They are actually the favorites in this match, which may be tough to believe for the casual soccer fan. Just because they're a smaller nation does not impact the quality of their team. Many of their starters play in the Premier League and overall they have proven to be a solid squad. The U.S. team has lost to the Belgians twice in the last 3 years. However, Belgium played in a much easier group than the U.S. so they will have to step up their level of play. Against an easier group Belgium only managed 4 goals in total. 1 goal will not be enough to beat the USA in this game and if Belgium continue to struggle to score then they may pay the price. If anything sinks them it will be their sputtering offense.

USA

Even though they aren't favorites there is still pressure on the American squad. They have high expectations after emerging from the "group of death" and they have already played well against scarier opposition. Hopefully Jozy Altidore can return and slide back into his role at the top of the U.S. attack. If he does this effectively then it will only help Clint Dempsey's inspiring play. The U.S. also desperately need Michael Bradley to get out of his funk. He has not yet lived up to expectations at this World Cup and he is running out of time to make an impact.

The U.S. defense faces the most pressure in this game. They need to avoid the kind of ridiculous errors that gave away cheap goals in the group stage. Belgium has struggled to score so a gift to them would be really devastating. The worst scenario at this point is to play from behind against a team that has only conceded 1 goal up to this point. Team USA will have to work hard to maintain possession of the ball and to crack an organized defense while not making themselves vulnerable to counterattack. Personally I hope Omar Gonzalez gets another start in the back because he was definitely our best defender in the Germany match and seemed to have a knack for being in the right place to make a crucial tackle.

My wife and I are celebrating our 8th anniversary tonight but she knows dinner is on hold until after the game. A spot in the quarterfinals against Argentina (or the Swiss...psh) is on the line. I believe!

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join A Sea Of Blue

You must be a member of A Sea Of Blue to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at A Sea Of Blue. You should read them.

Join A Sea Of Blue

You must be a member of A Sea Of Blue to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at A Sea Of Blue. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker