U.S. National Team falls to Belgium 2-1 in extra time

Tim Howard made 16 saves but the US could not prevent the Belgians from advancing

The United States saw their World Cup dream end on Tuesday as they fell 2-1 to Belgium an epic extra time Round of 16 match.

Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku scored for the Belgians in extra time while U.S. wunderkind Julian Green tallied for the USMNT to start a rally that could not be completed. American goalkeeper Tim Howard made 16 saves for the Americans in the defeat, which was most by any World Cup goalkeeper since 1966. 

From the opening whistle, the Belgians pressed high on the American defense and nearly took the lead just 39 seconds in when Gonzalez was beaten by Divock Origi, but the youngster’s shot was saved by Tim Howard. The Americans countered with a chance of their own minutes later when extended possession by the U.S. resulted in a Clint Dempsey chance that was saved by Belgian ‘keeper Thibault Courtois.

The U.S. was forced to make their first substitution in the 32nd minute when Fabian Johnson pulled up with a hamstring injury. With Johnson unable to continue, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann brought on Seattle Sounders FC speedster DeAndre Yedlin. The 20-year-old was active from the get-go as he pressed the Belgians down their left flank.

In the second half, the Belgians ramped up the pressure as the Americans found themselves unable to generate much of possession. Time and time again, Howard came up big as he denied repeated attempts by the Red Devils. For all their ineptitude in the attack, the Americans did manage an attempt in the final minute of stoppage time as Chris Wondolowski blasted a clear attempt at goal over the bar.

Belgium finally got on the board in the third minute of extra time when a defensive lapse by the U.S. allowed Romelu Lukaku to find De Bruyne for the go-ahead goal. The goal came in the same minute as Asamoah Gyan’s goal that lifted the Ghana over the U.S. in the round of 16 of the 2010 World Cup.  Lukaku found the back of the net himself in the 105th minute when he beat Matt Besler and then slotted it past Howard on the near post.

The Americans pulled back a goal of their own just two minutes later when Julian Green scored a remarkable finish on his first touch to give the U.S. hope. However, the late equalizer did not come as the Americans were unable to find the equalizer to extend their World Cup hopes.

The U.S. has now been bounced from the round of 16 in the last two World Cups.

Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com