Despite a brilliant performance in goal by Tim Howard the USA’s World Cup dream ended on Tuesday as they lost 2-1 to Belgium in extra time.
After a scoreless 90 minutes substitute Romelu Lukaku turned the goal for Belgium as he laid on the first goal for Kevin De Bruyne and then scored the second himself, in a brilliant first half of extra time.
But the American’s did not give up and a fantastic ball from Michael Bradley set up newcomer Julian Green to make it 2-1 with 13 minutes to go, but the US could not find a way past Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois despite having a couple of good chances.
Overall it was a positive World Cup for then US. They showed against Portugal that they can dominate possession against good sides and against Ghana showed an opportunistic side of their game that has been lacking in recent World Cups.
But the Germany and Belgium games showed that the US is not at the level of the really good teams. By the time the final whistle blew against Belgium, Jermaine Jones and Bradley were exhausted, having to play every minute of every game. The US squad is not deep enough yet to rotate players.
We also learned that the American’s need to do a better job of keeping possession of the ball when they win it back. In three of the four games the US had less than 50% possession and against Germany and Ghana that percentage was under 40%. That has to be improve.
Finally, the good teams are able to score and grind out games when they are not playing well. The US does not have a goalscorer(s) that can do that. That was illustrated against Belgium when in the last minute of normal time Wondolowski had a chance from six yards out but put it over the bar. A goal there and the USA wins the game. It is one thing to score against Canada or Cuba. it is another to score against the big teams in the big competitions. And the US were just missing that composure in front of Brazil.
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