Five burning questions for Belgium vs. U.S.

Martin Rogers
Yahoo Sports
American forward Altidore trains on own again
View photos
United States' Jozy Altidore watches from the team bench during the group G World Cup soccer match between the United States and Germany at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Thursday, June 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

For complete World Cup 2014 coverage visit Yahoo Sports and follow @YahooSoccer

SALVADOR, Brazil – Tuesday is crunch time for the United States, the point where it has to go big or go home when it meets Belgium at high-scoring Arena Fonte Nova.

The Americans will try to get past the round of 16 and go one better than four years ago when they lost to Ghana in South Africa. Not since 2002 has the U.S. booked a place in the quarterfinals of a World Cup.

Here are the key questions that will decide whether Jurgen Klinsmann's American squad can repeat that feat.

1. Who is going to play?

This is the easiest answer.

Klinsmann is not a big risk taker and although he would dearly love to have his main forward Jozy Altidore on the field, he probably won't take any chances with the big man's fitness despite being cleared to play on Monday.

Altidore damaged his left hamstring early in the U.S.'s first game and has not featured since. Expect Clint Dempsey to continue to lead the attack as the lone striker.

Defensively, Geoff Cameron will probably return at center back (Omar Gonzalez going back to the bench) in a relatively unchanged starting lineup.

2. Who should the U.S. be scared of?

This is America! The U.S. shouldn't be scared of anyone! However, there is a difference between fear and respect and Belgium are well worthy of the latter.

Marc Wilmots' team is slick and well-drilled and Belgium is very excited about its "golden generation" of talent. Eden Hazard of Chelsea and Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United are two of the biggest names in a team where virtually everyone plays for a top European club side.

That's why Belgium will go in as a clear, but not overwhelming, favorite with the bookies.

3. No more of those stupid ties, right?

Right. This is knockout soccer, which means no more groups and no more point tallies and goal differentials. To the delight of every traditional-American-sports-fan-turned-recent-soccer-convert, there are no ties.

If the teams are level after 90 minutes, then two 15-minute periods of extra time will be played. If that additional half hour still doesn't produce a winner, then a penalty kick shootout will follow.

4. Who has the better goalkeeper?

Take your pick: The old guy with a world of experience or the young guy with the world at the tips of his gloves.

The U.S. has Tim Howard, described by Klinsmann as one of the five best in the world at his position and a rock-solid man to have as your last line of defense.

Belgium has the most exciting young keeper in soccer, 22-year-old Thibaut Courtois, who helped Atletico Madrid win the Spanish league title and nearly the continental crown in the UEFA Champions League.

In all honestly, neither team has an edge here. These guys might be the two most accomplished players on the field.

5. How can the United States win?

By staying true to itself.

The U.S. is not the most glamorous or supremely talented team at this World Cup, but it has other attributes that often make up for it. More than ever, the Americans will have to fight and scrap and run and battle with ferocity and tirelessness against a young and highly skilled Belgium side.

Klinsmann's men have to stop Belgium's midfield supply line from feeding its dangerous attacking threats. Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman and Michael Bradley will form a three-pronged posse looking to stifle Belgian midfield general Axel Witsel.

More World Cup coverage on Yahoo! Sports: