The USA is ready for the overconfident Belgium team in the Round of 16 for the FIFA World Cup. Surviving the group of death, the Americans expect the return of forward Jozy Altidore to put the squad at full strength to start the knockout round. Facing a team just two spots ahead of the USA in the FIFA World Rankings, there is no doubt that Belgium will be heading home after Monday’s game.
There is a Guardian Liberty Voice writer who is covering the Belgium team that will need some counseling after the young US team lead by Captain America, Clint Dempsey leads the team to victory over Belgium. This writer feels confident that Belgium has the deepest team in the World Cup. Belgium does have to be a good team to qualify for the World Cup and earn a top 15 world ranking. Winning Group H and a higher ranking than the US team aside, the writer has not taken into account how many top teams have fallen flat and did not make it beyond group play and that Belgium will be the next team to go home..
The writer overlooked a key piece of the American line-up. Focus going into training for Brazil was the omission of Landon Donovan from the US roster. While Donovan was missed by the American lads after Altidore went down with an injury in the team’s first game against Ghana, the United States has a secret weapon that has only seen limited play during the group matches. During the 2013 Gold Cup, Donovan tied for most tournament goal’s with teammate Chris Wondolowski. Wondolowski may have come off the bench against Portugal in a clock killing roll, and with the exception of Cristiano Ronaldo finally waking up to assist on a last second equalizer, the forward did just that. Wondolowski is more than a ball handler that can play keep-a-way. The youngster has a deadly foot and can provide the US some instant offense off of the bench.
This delusional GLV writer also feels that Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois is the best goalkeeper on the planet. The Belgian keeper may have seen success against the lower ranked opposition in Group H, accounting for these apparent delusions of grandeur. The writer needs to wake up and realize that group play is over and it is time for the real games to start. The overconfident Belgium goalkeeper will learn quickly in the Round of 16 match of the FIFA World Cup that the USA team is ready to announce to the soccer world that America is a threat not to be dismissed.
The USA will be the first top 15 team the Belgium team has faced so far in Brazil. The fact that the US did draw with the Ronaldo led the Portuguese team and fell by a single goal off of a lucky rebound to Germany has given Belgium that false sense of confidence going into this first knockout game. The Belgium squad will quickly lose that confidence when Altidore steps onto the pitch for the first time since the Ghana game. Altidore is expected to play with a vengeance after missing most of the group games.
The USA will beat Belgium because:
1. Defeated Ghana, who had knocked the USA our of the previous two World Cups.
2. It took the best player in the world more than 90 minutes of play to finally figure out a way past the USA defense, and even then, it only resulted in a draw for Portugal.
3. Without Altidore, who is expected back from injury for the Belgium match, the US only lost to top ranked Germany by one goal during group play.
4. Captain America, Clint Dempsey, may be battered and broken, but cannot be stopped and will capitalize on any Belgium mistake at the defensive end.
The FIFA World Cup Round of 16 match-up between the USA and overconfident Belgium will end up as a great confidence builder for the American team, readying the squad for the rest of the knockout stages. With a full strength US squad that escaped the group of death, it is unfortunate for the GLV writer covering Belgium that their season will be over so soon.
Commentary by Carl Auer
Read more Guardian Liberty Voice Coverage on the FIFA World Cup Round of 16.