World Cup: How the U.S. Looks to Fare Against Belgium in Knockout Round
Now that the United States has officially made it through the group stages, even though they lost to Germany in their last match, the USMNT is set to take We Believe into the next round where they look to play Belgium on Tuesday. Does the U.S. have a snowball’s chance in Qatar of advancing past Belgium, land of In Bruges and their own style of beer? The Red Devils, as Belgium’s national team is nicknamed, were ranked just outside the top 10 in the world as of this writing (you can see the full list of FIFA international rankings here), and to put that into perspective, the USA is 13th on that list. So, they’re marginally better than we are. According to FiveThirtyEight, they’ve got a two percent chance of advancing compared the USMNT, uh, zero percent chance.
“There was a lot more fear [at the outset] then there is now,” said Eric Wynalda, one time leading scorer for team USA. “When you play against the likes of Germany, I think this team, our U.S. team, has had the ability to kind of grow in the tournament. You don’t like to win, tie, and lose, and go in the wrong direction, but I think the team is ready for this.” Wynalda cited assistants with the team who said that Belgium hadn’t come as a shock, and that they believed the team would be prepared.
In other words, everyone’s going all in the team being able to continue to ride the confidence wave that enabled them to make it out of Group G, the Group of Death — something that no one was seriously entertaining at the outset of the tournament. Quoting head coach Jürgen Klinsmann, Wynalda said that the U.S. team had to suffer in order to succeed, and then stated that he believed they had, indeed, suffered — referencing their brutal loss to Portugal in the waning seconds of their second game. So, suffering, togetherness, and a puncher’s chance that Belgium’s good players might continue to be middling. Sounds good to us. The match is scheduled for Tuesday, and will kick off at 4 p.m. Eastern Time.