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No one can say that the USA didn’t fight, that they didn’t have chances or heart or leave it all out on the pitch.
What would have been a spectacular Cinderella run for the Americans was cut short by a lightening-quick Belgian team who demonstrated top-tier play and overcame genius goal keeping by Tim Howard. The U.S. have shown glimpses of international achievement this World Cup and despite only a single victory, they swam with sharks, offering drama and spirit of the highest order. Though their 2-1 loss to Belgium came with tremendous heartache, it was also full of excitement and near possibility. See how it all played out below.
1. The Tone is Set
Tim Howard made 16 saves through 120 minutes, the most in almost 50 years of World Cup play. The very first came in the first minute.
2. Not Quite Enough
Clint Dempsey had a number of shots on goal, but like this 20th-minute strike, they all lacked the extra mustard needed to find the back of the net.
3. Beasley Plays the Mark
Belgium continuously tested the American defense, and for the bulk of the match, they were stifled either by Howard’s hands or a defenseman’s play, like DaMarcus Beasley here in the 25th.
4. Tim “The Brick Wall” Howard
Twitter erupted with praise for Howard and his virtuoso keeping. He denied shot after shot, giving the U.S. hope the way an international star only can.
5. Victory in Sight
The U.S. may not have held the bulk of possession, but just as regulation time was set to expire, substituted striker Chris Wondolowski blew a point blank look that would have made the impossible a very tangible reality.
6. Belgium Breaks Through
The term is “knocking” and Belgium was doing it all match long. This deflating 92nd-minute goal was almost expected, with the Belgians continuing to push and the U.S. letting their best opportunity pass.
7. A Glimmer of Hope
After the Belgians scored a second extra-time goal, the feeling in the collective American stomach was one of dread. The window had slammed shut. Except maybe not. In the 106th, Julian Green put the U.S. on the board and the sickness of defeat began to recede. The American’s played valiantly to force penalty kicks, a 113th-minute set piece looking absolutely exquisite, save for the botched finish. In the end, Green’s goal represented a different type of hope.
The U.S. may not have had the juice this World Cup or even this match, but a late score by a young player spells a promising future. The world class talent needed to push the American’s further into national play may have shown its face just before our 2014 exit.
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