USA falls to Belgium in Round of 16

Sports Editor

A heroic night for Tim Howard turned to defeat when the U.S. Men’s National Team fell 2-1 against Belgium in the Round of 16 in this year’s World Cup tournament.

Howard was responsible for 16 saves during the game making him the first goal-keeper to do so since 1966.

America stood on pins and needles as the match went into extra time.

Many expected it to go to penalty kicks, but Belgium was first to score.

Marc Wilmots, the Belgium coach, said the match must have been a lot of fun for spectators but had been hard on his personal health. “It was bad for my heart,” he said.

“But I am happy now, only concentrating on Argentina in the next round.

“People said we were not a good footballing team, but we created a chance after two minutes and must have had about 20 more. Tim Howard had a fantastic match. I think we saw a lot of football from Belgium tonight, a lot of movement.”

It was not until the 93rd minute that Belgian striker Romero Lukaku set up a near-perfect shot for midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, putting Belgium ahead 1-0. Team USA refused to give up, answered back with strong defense and attack on the ball.

Lukaku came back in the 107th minute with a goal of his own, nearly ending the hopes of any dreams the U.S. had at advancing to the next round. Still, the team kept its morale high and held possession of the ball 53 percent of the match.

Soon after Belgium pulled ahead, unlikely World Cup hero, forward Julian Green, took the field, substituting for midfielder Alejandro Bedoya. Green went on to score the only U.S. goal of the game. With less than 45 minutes of play in professional soccer, Green scored his first career goal in the World Cup. His name, mentioned nearly 7,000 times a minute online.

Despite any attempt at the goal by America, Belgium held them off for a solid win.

U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, voiced concern before the match about the game being officiated by an Algerian referee.

At a news conference Monday, Klinsmann was asked about the appointment of Djamel Haimoudi. Team USA knocked out Algeria in the 2010 World Cup with a last-second shot, something Klinsmann hoped the ref did not hold against the team.

“We hope it’s not a concern,” Klinsmann said. “He did already two games so far and he did them very well. We wish he continues his refereeing the perfect way he’s done so far.”

Klinsmann went on to comment on the manner in which the FIFA organization appoints referees to games.

“Sometimes I don’t understand FIFA,” Klinsmann said. “It’s difficult always to choose the right referees for the right games and it’s always been kind of tricky for FIFA, but it is what it is. We give it absolutely the benefit of the doubt. We respect the decision. We’re going to be spot on in the game and hope that everything goes well.”

While everything went well for a while, America could not pull through for a win over Belgium. They were sent home.

Belgium takes on Argentina Saturday in the quarterfinals. The winner will advance to the semifinal round, playing the winner of the Netherlands-Costa Rica game.