Of the 32 teams that qualified for the World Cup, the USMNT were 31st in time of possession. The same was true Tuesday against Belgium, one of the truly undervalued elite teams in the world. That, coupled with the early injury departure of Fabian Johnson, really didn’t look good for the U.S.
But then again, when has it?
Let’s not take away from the U.S. and how hard it is to constantly play on the back foot. Keep in mind, Ghana completely outplayed them and the U.S. still won. Portugal didn’t exactly quail before the USMNT’s might either. The Stars and Stripes have been playing on the back foot this entire World Cup, but had pulled it off thus far. Tuesday they actually looked more in control than their previous three games, but it was here that their magic ended in tragic fashion.
The U.S. and, of all people, Julian Green, put up a phenomenal last-ditch effort, but they just couldn’t dig out of the hole.
Of course, the only reason this game even made it this far is because of Tim Howard. Insert just about any other goal keeper and this game ends 3-0 in the regular 90 minutes.
Belgium finally cracked the code of the United States’ “outlaw magic.” They controlled possession, though less so than everyone else, they kept relentlessly attacking, just like everyone else, but unlike everyone else, they finally sent the USMNT home after a truly inspiring World Cup run.
The Belgians are just that good. I don’t care what the experts say about Belgium not doing enough with possession and not attacking enough; that’s just how they play. They had only led in 24 minutes of play coming into the match against the U.S., and yet they won every single game, and that’s all that matters.
Belgium are deceptively good, deceptively controlling, and deceptively dominant, and it would not at all be surprising to see them push on past Argentina. From there, with how little other teams have shown, Belgium are just as capable of winning this thing as anyone else out there.