The U.S. Men's National Team tried to extend their run in the 2014 World Cup on Tuesday, facing Belgium in the Round of 16, but in the end, they couldn't get the goals to advance, as they fell 2-1 in added extra time. After keeping the game scoreless through regulation, Belgium opened the scoring in the first period of extra time, when Kevin De Bruyne ended the deadlock in the 93rd, and Romelu Lukaku notched what first looked like an insurance goal in the 105th minute.
But Julian Green, the youngster courted by USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann ahead of the tournament and a player many thought was in Brazil as some sort of agreement for deciding to play for the U.S. internationally, came off the bench and gave Americans hope a couple minutes into the second period of extra time, as he scored a fantastic goal on his first touch in the game off a Michael Bradley pass to cut the lead in half. Despite some close calls on both ends, the game ended with Belgium, Group H winners, advancing, maintaining the statistically impressive feat of all group stage winners in the Round of 16 advancing to the quarterfinals.
But from an American perspective, it was a tough result to swallow, even if the USMNT played pretty well overall and with a bit more attacking energy and better finishing, could have taken this game. Belgium certainly controlled the run of play, but the U.S. did themselves proud with the performance overall.
The former Chivas USA player involved in the game, U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan, did not come off the bench in the game, which again, was little surprise considering the tournament incumbent starter Tim Howard had, including a very good performance against Belgium. There are no assurances, of course, as a lot can happen in four years, but it seems likely this was Howard's last World Cup game, and at the moment, Guzan looks like the best bet to be starting between the posts for the U.S. in 2018 in Russia. But again, we'll have to see what happens over the next four years.
A full range of emotions, and now it's over. In many respects, that's the hardest part of the World Cup -- the abrupt end for nearly every country involved. Still, it was a pretty decent tournament for the U.S., and now we turn our attention to the next challenge.
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