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July 3, 2014

Team USA, keeper Tim Howard push Belgium to limit, lose 2-1

By Aaron Cutteridge

In what many are calling the most exciting match of the 2014 World Cup, so far, the United States men’s national soccer team pushed heavily favored Belgium into overtime tied 0-0, but ultimately fall to the relentless Belgium attack, 2 to 1.

Goalkeeper Tim Howard of Team USA was charged with facing the Belgium onslaught and turned away 15 shots on goal and was in the line of fire all night with 39 shots in Team USA’s end and 19 corner kicks.

Tim Howard making one of his 16 saves against Belgium

Howard also called out plays and directed what little offense Team USA would muster against Belgium from the keeper position.

Brandon Bogucki, a student at Lakeland Community College and avid soccer fan feels there isn’t a huge soccer fan base in Ohio.

“It’s a pretty big deal that for two World Cup’s in-a-row that Team USA made it to the second round,” Bogucki said. “They have probably the best squad this time and they made it out of the hardest group, nicknamed the Group of Death for how tough the competition was.”

Belgium has dominated Team USA with a 4 wins - 1 loss – 0 draw record. Belgium’s last win was in Cleveland in May 2013 where Belgium won 4-2.

“Landon Donovan isn’t playing for Team USA anymore and Belgium didn’t play their number one starters in that match,” Bogucki said.

Team USA controlled the ball for more than half of the match, but the possessions never moved deep into Belgium’s territory, much less led to scoring chances as Team USA would only register 5 shots-on-goal for the entire match.

Defense and Tim Howard kept Team USA clinging to hope that a mistake by Belgium might lead to a victory.

The entire 90 minute regulation match played out to a 0 – 0 draw and a 30 minute overtime period was necessary.

Unlike American football and hockey, the match does not end upon the first goal scored. The match plays for the entire overtime period.

Belgium took advantage of fatigue setting in on Team USA’s players and scored at the 93 minute mark to take a 1-0 lead.

Belgium could see the blood in the water and scored again at the 105 minute mark.
Down 2-0, Team USA looked beaten and deflated, but a goal at the 107 minute mark by Julian Green re-invigorated the team.

It looked like Team USA might tie it up at the 114 minute mark by Clint Dempsey, but Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois blocked the point-blank shot.

Team USA was defeated but could leave with their heads held high after pushing a daunting Belgium team to the brink but not having enough to snatch a victory away.

Tim Howard would end the match setting a World Cup record with 16 saves and had a performance few will forget.