1. Survive and advance. Yes, the U.S. lost to Germany on Thursday, 1-0. It was a match played in a torrential downpour in Recife where neither side looked particularly interested in playing to the maximum. The U.S., coming off of a tough match in the rainforest, looked very dead-legged against the very deep and talented German team. Thomas Mueller struck a sweet volley to give Germany the win in the second half, but for a driven U.S. team with a perfectionist for a coach, a loss has never felt more like a win.
2. Bradley’s woes? Simply put, with Jozy Altidore out of the lineup, Michael Bradley has looked like a shell of himself. Misplaced passes, awkward shots and other signs point to the fact that he doesn’t seem 100% confident in his new super-hero role. He’s being asked to do too much, which is evident by the fact that he ran more than any other player in the World Cup during the group stage. Since Jozy left the lineup, the U.S. is playing a false 9 in which Bradley and Dempsey are alternating positions, which leaves both playing out of their comfort zone. Once Jurgen decides to put a target forward back into the lineup, whether it be Jozy or Aaron Johannsson, I expect that we’ll see Bradley at his best.
3. The accomplishment. The U.S. defied a world of critics by advancing to the knockout rounds of the World Cup through the Group of Death. Back in December, most mocked the chances for Jurgen Klinsmann’s men to fight through the gauntlet of Ghana, Portugal and Germany. Through some spirited performances, trademark fight and grit and some excellent football against Portugal, most of the footballing world can’t overlook the USMNT anymore. Regardless of what happens against Belgium, this U.S. team and it’s crazy fans can hold their heads high. The impact is there for the world to see.
Upcoming: USA v. Belgium, 4 pm EST on ESPN.
- Jozy back? There is a very slight chance that Jozy Altidore could feature against Belgium as a super-sub which is music to every American Outlaw’s ears. This team needs its target forward back to advance deep into the tournament.
- 3rd time the charm? In the last three years, the U.S. has played Belgium twice. Both times Jurgen’s men got out-classed. Will the third time be the charm for the battle-hardened American squad?
- Yedl-in? If a lineup change is in order for the Belgians, it could be DeAndre Yedlin in for Graham Zusi. We all love Zusi’s game, but against a slow back-four of Belgium, Yedlin could have plenty of opportunity to link up with Fabian Johnson down the right flank and use his speed to cause the Red Devils a ton of headaches. Yedlin has looked very impressive in his two sub appearances so far in the World Cup.