The U.S. Men’s National Team is playing with house money right now. This is not too say that they should feel content to just make the knockout stage of the World Cup. No, they’ve proven to be rugged, gritty and determined enough to get through the Group of Death, a reality nobody expected to come to fruition in Brazil. That’s why if the Americans fail to get past Belgium on Tuesday, it shouldn’t be seen as a failure, but rather a positive step forward to where it wants to be: an upper echelon soccer power. Now to the actual game versus the Belgians. This was a side considered to be a darkhorse to win the World Cup. A young, talented yet inexperienced bunch. They’ve started off slow in games only to crank things up later. Belgium has relied heavily on Chelsea star Eden Hazard, who has not disappointed, but he is just one player.
Romelu Lukaku has struggled, failing to score in this World Cup. If you’re the U.S., you hope this pattern continues. The defense has been solid, but could be missing Vincent Kompany, who’s doubtful with a groin issue. Kompany is considered a world-class defender. As for the Red, White and Blue, forward Jozy Altidore could be back on the pitch for the first time since sustaining a hamstring injury early on in the win over Ghana. Boy, is his scoring punch sorely needed. Clint Dempsey is up front as the lone striker and needs the midfield to do something. So far, Michael Dempsey has not gotten the job done despite his tireless energy thus far. Even he admits that he must step up for the U.S. to have a chance to advance. Still, the outlook is bright for the USA, no matter the result on Tuesday. That’s what happens when you play with house money.