USA to face Belgium in World Cup knockout round
El Paso, TX — The U.S. advanced to the Round of 16 in consecutive FIFA World Cups for the first time in its history and will play Belgium on Tuesday, July 1, at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, for a spot in the quarterfinals. The game will be broadcast on ESPN, WatchESPN, Univision and ESPN Radio. Fans can also follow live on Twitter @ussoccer . The U.S. finished in second place in Group G with four points and ahead of Portugal in goal differential by three goals. Germany won Group G with seven points. Belgium took first place in Group H with nine points, beating Algeria (which advanced to the Round of 16 but fell 2-1 to Germany on Monday), Russia and Korea to sweep the group.
After a dramatic 2-1 victory against Ghana and a roller coaster 2-2 draw with Portugal to open the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the USA finished Group G play with a 1-0 loss to Germany, tying Portugal with four points in the group. The U.S. advanced, holding a goal differential of zero to Portugal's minus-3 goal differential. In the final game of group stage, Germany broke through with a goal in the 55th minute by Thomas Muller after a scoreless first half. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard stopped a header by Per Mertesacker and the rebound trickled to the top of the box to Muller, whose shot inside the right post was just beyond the reach reach of a diving Howard. The U.S. would threaten but failed to score, as the 1-0 Germany lead would stand for the final count.
Jozy Altidore, who left the USA's opening game against Ghana with a hamstring injury, has been in training with the U.S. and has been deemed available for the Belgium match. Jermaine Jones collided with Alejandro Bedoya during the game against Germany and both are cleared to play. Clint Dempsey (nose) and defender Matt Besler (hamstring) have recovered from their respective injuries and will be available for head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
USA VS. BELGIUM:
• The U.S. had scored two goals in each of its past six matches before being shut out against Germany, and has now scored two goals in seven of its nine games in 2014. The MNT is 5-2-2 during this year. The other loss came against Ukraine on March 5 (a 2-0 defeat in Cyprus) and the draws came against Mexico (2-2 tie on April 2 in Glendale, Arizona) and Portugal (2-2 on June 22 in Manaus, Brazil).
• The U.S. enters Tuesday's game having gone unbeaten in six of its past seven games, with the draw against Mexico, followed by four straight wins against Azerbaijan, Turkey, Nigeria and then Ghana in the USA's World Cup opener before the draw against Portugal and loss to Germany.
• This is the USA's seventh consecutive appearance in the FIFA World Cup and 10th appearance overall.
• The U.S. lost 4-2 to Belgium in the last meeting between the two teams, a friendly on May 29, 2013, in Cleveland. That game marked DaMarcus Beasley's 100th cap with the U.S. MNT. Geoff Cameron also scored his first international goal and Clint Dempsey added a late penalty kick as the U.S. gave up three second-half goals to Belgium.
• Eleven of Belgium's players on the current World Cup roster appeared in the 2013 victory against the U.S., including 10 of the 11 starters.
• Of the 11 Belgium holdovers from the 2013 victory against the U.S., 10 have started at least one game in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
• The U.S. also has 11 players on its roster who appeared in the 2013 loss to Belgium, eight of which started that game. Ten of those 11 have started in this year's World Cup for the U.S.
• The U.S. is 1-4-0 all-time against Begium,
• The only U.S. victory over Belgium came in 1930 in Montevideo, Uruguay, during the opening game for each team of the first FIFA World Cup, which was also the first meeting between the two sides. The U.S. won 3-0, on its way to a top-four finish with a 3-0 win against Paraguay and a 6-1 loss to Argentina in the semifinals.
• The U.S. was shut out in three straight meetings with Belgium, all friendlies taking place in Brussels, Belgium. The USA lost 1-0 on April 22, 1995; fell 2-0 on Feb. 25, 1998; and lost 1-0 on Sept. 6, 2011.