USMNT Breakdown: vs. Belgium World Cup Round of 16

Prince Harry opens the scoring for Belgium in extra time (philly.com)

T.J. Zaremba breaks down USMNT’s World Cup ending 2-1 heartbreaker…

There is a cliché in boxing: “Styles make fights”. The US and Belgium game epitomized that sentiment. For Belgium it was their attack against the strong defense of the US.

After listening and reading the experts and the “experts” after the game, I would have thought this was the US heat map.

Did the US park the bus? (unknown)

Did the US park the bus? (unknown)

That surprised me because the numbers support the game that I watched.  That was a close, open game in which Belgium was just a bit better.

Close, but not quite for the Yanks (squawka.com)

Close, but not quite for the Yanks (squawka.com)

In both number of passes and accuracy, the US were better than the Belgians.

US-Belgium Passing

Best passing game in the World Cup for the Yanks (mlssoccer.com)

However, during the pivotal second half through the end of the first part of extra time, Belgium took over the game.

More possession for the US, but not when it counted (mlssoccer.com)

More possession overall for the US, but not when it counted (mlssoccer.com)

The game for the United States was lost in how they set up for this game.

4-2-3-1 or 5-4-1? (mlssoccer.com)

4-2-3-1 or 5-4-1? (mlssoccer.com)

The plan was for the outside backs in Johnson (Yedlin) and Beasley to use their speed and exploit the Belgian outside backs. And that is exactly what they did

Outside backs or midfielders? (squawka.com)

Outside backs or midfielders? (squawka.com)

This was the best chance for the Yanks to win, but it also played into Belgium’s strength, the quality of their attacking players, specifically Hazard and De Bruyne.

De Brune & Hazard had good nights (squawka.com)

De Bruyne & Hazard had good nights (squawka.com)

For the first 90 minutes, the two center backs, Gonzalez and Besler held off the Belgian attack.

Besler and Gonzalez were not the problem (squawka.com)

Besler and Gonzalez were not the problem (squawka.com)

They had help from Geoff Cameron, who really was the third defender.

Just another night at the office for Cameron (squawka.com)

Just another night at the office for Cameron (squawka.com)

And Tim Howard was legendary.

Timmy's day job? (unknown)

Timmy’s day job? (unknown)

Squawka said he was Man of the Match.

Despite being beaten twice (squawka.com)

Despite being beaten twice (squawka.com)

However, when Marc Wilmots brought on a fresh Romelu Lukaku for Divock Origi, the tiring US defense finally broke.

 Quality chances for Belgium in the first half of extra time (fourfourtwo.com)

Quality chances for Belgium in the first half of extra time (fourfourtwo.com)

Event Key for FourFourTwo maps

Event Key for FourFourTwo maps

Going into the knockout round, the consensus was that Michael Bradley needed to have a huge game for the Yanks to have a chance at advancing. That did not happen.

Decent didn't get the job done (squawka.com)

Decent didn’t get the job done (squawka.com)

Neither Jermaine Jones, who never was on the same page as Bradley, nor Graham Zusi was there to pick up the slack. Jones had his worst game in Brazil.

A return to Earth for Jones (squawka.com)

A return to Earth for Jones (squawka.com)

So did Zusi.

Bad until mercifully subbed off in the 72nd minute (squawka.com)

Zusi mercifully subbed off in the 72nd minute (squawka.com)

Kyle Beckerman was not allowed to help any.

Beckerman on the pine pony (unknown)

Did Beckerman light up a doobie on the sidelines? (unknown)

Only Alejandro Bedoya picked his game up.

Bedoya's best game was when it counted most (squakwa.com)

Bedoya’s best game was when it counted most (squakwa.com)

For most of the tournament, Klinsi had success with his substitution choices.  This game could be summed up by a MeatLoaf song.

Chris Wondolowski had one job to do.

Wondo had one job.  Put the ball in the goal (squawka.com)

Wondo’s night (squawka.com)

Unfortunately, he did not succeed.

And he failed miserably (thebiglead.com)

Wondo failed miserably (thebiglead.com)

Overall, this was not a bad performance for USMNT. However, the result was just, and the flight home is deserved.

And Russia is waiting with open arms.

Welcome to Russia? (wikipedia.org)

Welcome to Russia? (wikipedia.org)

****

Need more USMNT chatter? Follow @OTFSoccer on Twitter

****

T.J. Zaremba was BarnBurner #110 and 1998 second-half season ticket holder in Section 8 of pre-mothership Soldier Field. After over a decade on walkabout, with a handful of guest appearances, he returned in 2011 and has been a regular (when his commitment to Uncle Sam allows it) at Toyota Park with his wife and the Hamster. Follow T.J. @TJZaremba

*infographics courtesy of mlssoccer.comfourfourtwo.comand squawka.com

 

One thought on “USMNT Breakdown: vs. Belgium World Cup Round of 16

  1. Pingback: Brazil 2014: Quarterfinals – Argentina vs Belgium & Costa Rica vs Netherlands – preview | OTF Soccer

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