By Mike Woitalla
Outplayed by a more skillful and dynamic Belgian team, the USA had an upset within reach thanks to goalkeeper Tim Howard and a belated surge by its offense.
The 2-1 overtime loss, which ended the USA's World Cup at the round of 16, will be remembered for its dramatic ending as the USA fought for an equalizer -- but also for an offense that never found its rhythm at this World Cup.
RATING PLAYER (TEAM) GP/G
9 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG), 104/0.
Howard made a cliffhanger out of what could have been a rout. His 1st minute foot save off a close-range shot off Divock Origi was the first of Howard’s 16 (!) saves. He stopped a wide variety of Belgium efforts, including several one-v-ones.
NR Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/GER), 26/1.
Went off injured in the 32nd minute.
5 Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), 23/0.
With the central defense under constant pressure, he helped keep some crosses from hitting their target and interfered with through balls.
6 Matt Besler (Sporting KC), 21/0.
Constantly cleared balls out the penalty area. Had he not gotten roasted by Romelu Lukaku in overtime on the go-ahead goal by Kevin De Bruyne and lost Lukaku on the second, Besler would have been rated among the best.
8 DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/MEX), 119/17.
Prevented a sure goal in the first half when he cut off a low pass headed to Marouane Fellaini standing in front of an open goal. Won several tackles and attacked from his left back position.
6 Jermaine Jones (Besiktas/TUR), 46/3.
Although he toiled as usual and helped with the late surge, was part of a central midfield that failed to keep possession long enough to give the backline some relief.
5 Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG), 30/1.
Central midfielder was charged with clogging the middle but didn’t help spark any forward movement.
3 Graham Zusi (Sporting KC), 27/3.
Lost ball in midfield to set up dangerous counter for Belgians in 22nd minute. Badly whiffed a shot in 40th minute on feed from Yedlin.
6 Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), 90/12.
Brilliantly assisted Julian Green’s goal with a chip through the middle. Hit cross-field passes to advancing outside backs. Led the U.S. comeback attempt in overtime.
4 Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes/FRA), 32/1.
Looked good on the ball when he got it, which was too infrequent, and didn’t provide a threat from the wing.
5 Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), 109/39.
His first three shots lacked power and were easily saved. He missed a chance to equalize in overtime when he shot into goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois after a clever free kick play.
RATING PLAYER (TEAM) GP/G
8 DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders), 7/0.
After replacing Johnson at right back in 32nd minute threatened frequently down the wing.
3 Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), 22/9.
In stoppage time of regulation play, he missed the kind of opportunity he was sent on to finish, banging high over the goal from the edge of the penalty are. Also missed Yedlin’s cross last in second overtime.
7 Julian Green (Bayern Munich/GER), 3/1.
Came in for the second overtime and volleyed home the goal that gave USA a lifeline.
(1=low; 5=average; 10=high)