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World Cup Viewers Guide: United States vs. Belgium

Dirty Tackle

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It's only been a few days since the United States successfully left the “Group of Death” behind and officially advanced to play Belgium in the Round of 16, but between roster adjustments, the raising of expectations and getting to know the Red Devils there's been plenty of news. Below is a round-up of Yahoo Sports' coverage - from Brazil to the States and back - of Team USA's knockout game against Belgium.

Injuries on the Belgian side and Tim Howard’s experience stopping Belgians could help the U.S.

The Belgians’ price to pay for winning their group came in the form of injuries to Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen, who are pretty much ruled out for the game against the U.S.. Meanwhile, U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard knows Felaini, Lukako and Moralis from his club career at Everton. He understands how the Belgian team plays and gave some insightful analysis of the at a press conference.

Know thy enemy

Dan Wetzel went deep on why you should hate Belgium and managed to anger every waffle aficionado on the internet while Martin Rogers took a look at how soccer can unite a country that's a political mess. Brooks Peck provided everything else you need to know about the Belgian team.

Expect some scoring

As Martin Rogers pointed out Monday, Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador - the location of the U.S./Belgium showdown - is averaging more goals per game than any World Cup venue since 1958. In fact, the 2014 World Cup is on pace to top the record for goals in a tournament set in 1998.

It might be okay to raise our expectations

By defying the general low expectations prior to the tournament the USMNT has taught most of us several things. From Landon Donovan to Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones, Joe Lago found five fundamental lessons that can be drawn from Team USA's results in group play. It might be fair to say that the U.S. is simply better than most critics thought before the tournament. The team has also become a favorite of fans from all over the world.

Wanting more

Jurgen Klinsmann may have said before the tournament that the U.S. winning the World Cup this year was still unrealistic, but he also told players and their families to rebook their flights back to the U.S. for a date after the final. Being the eternal optimist and motivator he is, Klinsmann said last week that he believes the U.S. can advance in the knockout round and that a new tournament is now just starting for his squad.

[Gallery: Behind the scenes with USMNT in Brazil ]

Beside Klinsmann, Tim Howard also reasserted that the team is now hungry for more. He said that the team is not satisfied with simply qualifying for the knockout round and will play to win against Belgium. The United States also got an endorsement from group stage opponent Lukas Podolski of the German national team, who claimed that the U.S. could advance from the Round of 16.

No rest for the weary

Whereas many fans at home saw the qualification to the next round as a good reason to take a breather and celebrate, Klinsmann allowed his team no downtime before the next game.

[Slideshow: Team USA prepares for Belgium match ]

Things that will be running through Klinsmann’s mind will be who to start, how to utilize returnee Jozy Altidore, and lastly, which penalty shooters to pick. Altidore is coming back from a harmstring injury and is cleared to play.

You can believe that they will win

The USMNT has shown great heart and an ability to make improvements throughout the tournament. Some of the keys to the game will be to win the midfield while having confidence in shots from distance that test Belgium’s excellent goalkeeper Courtois. A factor that could work against the U.S.? Dan Wetzel thinks Klinsmann made a mistake in calling out the match's referee.


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