World Cup 2014: USA faces Belgium in knockout round

PHOENIX - The U.S. Men face Belgium Tuesday in the last match of the Round of 16 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The U.S. will be digging deep after barely making it out of the Group Stage and facing a Belgium squad that was unbeaten in its Group H.

The U.S. hopes for the return of injured forward Jozy Altidore (strained hamstring), but Belgium is also afflicted by injuries including captain Vincent Kompany, starting defender Thomas Vermaelen, and some reserves.

Crucial for the U.S. will be confidence and minimizing the errors that have plagued them so far. Team USA has often looked uneasy early on in its matches, including a huge defensive slip-up at the beginning against Portugal. A talented team like Belgium will make them suffer for putting forward anything less than their best.

Possession is the key statistic that the U.S. needs to improve going forward. In their first three games they held possession 41%, 48%, and 37% of the match. Putting together longer sequences will allow the U.S. to dictate the pace and style of the game, and let its team strength dominate the group of Belgian stars.

Team USA comes into the match as slight underdogs, but with a good chance of moving on to the quarterfinals where they would face Argentina or Switzerland.

Watch the match on ESPN on Tuesday, July 1 at 1 p.m.

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