The USMNT faces Belgium today in the World Cup’s Sweet Sixteen. Germany’s wacky 2-1 finish over lowly Algeria proves that knockout games are never easy. But win or lose, American soccer is already ascendant. Before 1990, we rarely qualified for the World Cup, but now it is almost automatic. Getting out of the Group Stage used to be a goal, but now the USMNT has clinched consecutive Sweet Sixteens for the first time ever. Granted, we don’t want to settle for merely making the Knockout Round (right Mexico?), but progress is being made. We can fast-forward the rebuild with a win today over Belgium.
Belgium fields a sturdy squad. They cleaned our clocks last May and went undefeated in Group Play. Should we be scared? The Red Devils are chock-full of young guns, but a little like Portugal, they aren’t a solid team. They won the Group of Meh with three one-goal victories. Whereas, we gritted our teeth and advanced past some of the world’s best sides. Jurgen Klinsmann heads up a solid team right now, as the Stars and Stripes have a winning blend of young talent and veteran savvy. To make a long story short, we can win this game. Other than waffles, what do we owe Belgium? Stella Artois? The insistent misspelling of “cider”? Bastogne? We owe Belgium nothing! Let’s win this game boys!!
Bold Prediction: Clint Dempsey has given his penance stare before every game. Jozy Altidore is cleared to play. Omar Gonzalez looked superlative in solidifying the backline. DeAndre Yedlin has only just begun to show the world what he can do. The Yanks come marching in 2-1. I believe. I believe that. I believe that we. I believe that we will win!
If you are going nuts before kickoff with stress and anticipation, distract yourself with this article about Landon Donovan. Local Sounders writer Jeremiah Oshan penned this stellar piece for SB Nation in which Donovan admits to cheering against the USMNT having mixed emotions about the USMNT’s success. As you know, I wrote an article in full support of Donovan, denouncing Jurgen Klinsmann’s decision to cut him from the squad. Oshan’s piece is a fabulous corollary to mine. But if my bold prediction holds true, I will need to be writing an apology to Klinsmann. I have never been so eager to eat crow.