We’re not supposed to be here. It was too much.
Cristiano Ronaldo was too unstoppable. Germany was too mechanical. Ghana was too, well, ?dream-crushing.
The ”Group of Death” was going to kill the United States men’s national team. Until it didn’t.
However you rate Jürgen Klinsmann and his mostly-American-but-kinda-European team, it advanced.
Unfortunately, moving on to the Round of 16 doesn’t fill the holes Ronaldo and company poked in our boys in Brazil.
The back line still doesn’t know how to play with each other. Even my dad, whose soccer knowledge comes only from pretending to listen to me talk about soccer during dinner, can tell.
“Why don’t they just talk to each other?” he asked me about five minutes into the Portugal game. “It seems like that would help.”
Good call, Dad. It probably would.
The biggest problem spot in the back has been left back Damarcus Beasley. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty confident Sam’s column next to mine will mention Damarcus as a bright spot for the U.S. in the group stage. Sorry Sam, but defensively he’s been just short of awful .
If Beasley landed in Brazil with lunch money in his pocket, Group G’s wingers took it, time after time after time. Across the field, right back Fabian Johnson has shined offensively but has also struggled while ?tracking back.
We still aren’t quite sure how to score, either. Four goals in three games: one within 30 seconds of kickoff, one from a corner kick and two came from pure chaos in front of Portugal’s net.
The minute Jozy Altidore pulled a hamstring, the U.S. attack pulled up lame.
So, to recap, we’re finding it tough to score and equally tough to keep the other team from scoring. That could be an issue.
I want the U.S. to win the World Cup. I really, really want to keep watching these guys from standing-room-only bars and block parties.
But here’s the thing. This Belgian team couldn’t be more perfectly built to end this version of the American Dream.
Those back line problems we talked about? There’s a real chance they could become a full-on catastrophe Tuesday.
If there’s one thing Belgium excels at, it’s attacking. The team is stacked with so many young playmakers. If you’re looking to turn somebody into a soccer fan, have them watch Belgium play.
As soon as one of those attackers passes the ball, they’re on the run, slicing and slashing their way through defenses more organized than ours.
It’s hard for even me, watching on TV, to keep track of which Belgian is where when they’re flowing in attack. I can only imagine trying to as a defender.
And those struggles our outside backs, Beasley and Johnson, have had? Almost cruelly, they’ll now be asked to mark Eden Hazard, one of the most dynamic ?playmakers in the world.
On the defensive side of the ball, Belgium is, well, humongous.
This U.S. team has had problems against big defenders. With target man Jozy Altidore at least slowed by a tweaked hamstring, American attackers will have trouble finding space in Belgium’s tall-trees ?defense.
All in all, it’s just too much.
I want to believe. I want to see Clint Dempsey keep making the country forget Landon Donovan.
I want to be a loud, proud, obnoxious American for another couple weeks. I want to picture it. But I can’t.
If I were to build a team to beat the U.S., it would look a lot like Belgium.
Klinsmann and his squad may well go for broke Tuesday afternoon. I hope they do — it’s house money, after all.
But this Belgium team, man. Prediction: Belgium 2, USA 0