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USA v Belgium Game Preview & Thread

| July 1st, 2014

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Because, really, what the hell could possibly be happening around the Chicago Bears to warrant this column be dedicated to anything else.

So why do I like the USMNT today?

I always like the USMNT.

Points…

  • Set pieces, set pieces, set pieces. Belgium has not allowed a goal in the run of play yet in this tournament and they sport – when healthy – the sturdiest back four in the tournament. Thomas Vermaelen is out and Vincent Kompany (arguably the best center half in the world) will be limited if he plays at all. US needs a big performance off the dead ball and that usually means a big delivery performance from Graham Zusi.
  • US can’t lose the possession battle to the extent they lost it against Germany and that means Michael Bradley has to play better. Bradley is meant to be the catalyst for everything this attack but his timing, pace and ideas have all been a step behind throughout the group stage. That has to end.
  • Eden Hazard has not asserted himself yet in this tournament. If he chooses today to do so, US fans will be looking down the barrel of a several goal defeat. That’s how much better Hazard is than any of the players tasked to defend him.

Today is a huge opportunity for the USMNT. If they win they’ll be playing a quarterfinal on Saturday of Fourth of July weekend. Families gathered around television. Grandparents watching a sport they’d never watch. That kind of event could be the foundation of a whole new generation of soccer fans in this country. “I started watching soccer with my family on 4th of July weekend” kinda thing. More eyes would be on that game Saturday than on any soccer event in the history of this country. That is the opportunity. Will they seize it?

USA 2, Belgium 1 in extra time.

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