US World Cup run ends with 2-1 loss to Belgium - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

US World Cup run ends with 2-1 loss to Belgium

Posted: Updated:
USA players react after Belgium's Romelu Lukaku scored his side's second goal in extra time during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Belgium and the USA at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, July 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) USA players react after Belgium's Romelu Lukaku scored his side's second goal in extra time during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Belgium and the USA at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, July 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — They captured the eyes and hearts of a suddenly awakened soccer nation, who gathered in unprecedented numbers to watch the world's game.

But the end of the ride came at the exact same point as four years ago: with an overtime loss in the World Cup's round of 16.

Kevin De Bruyne finally beat goalkeeper Tim Howard in the third minute of extra time, Romelu Lukaku scored 12 minutes later to give Belgium a two-goal lead, and the Red Devils hung on for a 2-1 victory Tuesday.

"It's heartbreaking," Howard said. "I don't think we could have given it more."

Before exiting, the U.S. showed the spunk that captured America's attention. Julian Green, at 19 the youngest player on the U.S. roster, stuck out his right foot to volley in Michael Bradley's pass over the defense in the 107th minute, two minutes after entering the game.

They nearly tied it up in the 114th, when Clint Dempsey peeled off the ball and was stopped point-blank by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois after being fed by Bradley on a free kick.

But it wasn't enough, and U.S. players fell to the field at the final whistle in their all-white uniforms like so many crumpled tissues.

"You get to this point and these games are always about a play here and play there," Bradley said.

The Americans advanced from a difficult first-round group that included Germany, Portugal and Ghana to reach the knockout rounds of consecutive World Cups for the first time. Four years ago, they were eliminated in South Africa by Ghana 1-0 on a goal in the third minute of overtime.

Fans who had made the trek south of the equator chanting "I believe that we will win!" could hardly believe they lost, extending a World Cup winless streak against European nations to nine games over 12 years.

The crowd of 51,227 at Arena Fonte Nova appeared to be about one third pro-U.S., with 10 percent backing the Belgians and the rest neutral. Back home, millions watched across the United States in offices, homes and public gatherings that includes a huge crowd in Chicago's Soldier Field.

At some large financial firms in Manhattan, 70-inch screens were brought in for employees to watch. President Barack Obama joined about 200 staffers in an Executive Office Building auditorium to watch the second half.

"I believe!" he exclaimed as he walked in at the front of the hall. "I believe!"

That sparked a chorus of the chant, and as Obama took a front-row seat, he said sheepishly: "I was worried that if I walked in and Belgium scored, I'd get in trouble."

Howard, playing the finest game of his career, stopped a dozen shots with his legs and arms to keep the Americans even through regulation and force an additional 30 minutes. He wound up with 16 saves.

In its first World Cup under Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. had promised to play attacking soccer. But once again the Americans had trouble maintaining possession and for much of the night it seemed as if the field were tilted.

Howard, at 35 one of the American veterans, kept saving his team.

But when Matt Besler lost his balance on an attack down the right, Lukaku sped in alone and crossed in front of the goal. The ball rebounded off a defender, and De Bruyne controlled it, spun and beat Howard just over his right foot.

Then with the U.S. pushing for an equalizer, De Bruyne burst ahead and fed Lukaku. He slotted the ball past Howard, his Everton teammate, seeming to put the Red Devils out of reach.

But Green, among five German-Americans on the U.S. roster and a surprise pick, woke up the team and its fans with his first touch of the game, setting off raucous chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" But there would be no final comeback this time.

Chris Wondolowski had a chance to win it in stoppage time when Jermaine Jones flicked the ball to him at the top of the 6-yard box, but with Courtois coming out Wondolowski put the ball over the crossbar.

"The dream falls short, but this is an incredible group," Howard said, "and we'll never forget this night."

  • UAB SportsMore>>

  • Fans ready for start of football season

    Fans ready for start of football season

    Thursday, August 28 2014 7:45 AM EDT2014-08-28 11:45:46 GMT
    For some people, tonight is just as exciting as Christmas Eve! Thursday kicks off the college football season. Many fans have been counting down the days.More >>
    For some people, tonight is just as exciting as Christmas Eve! Thursday kicks off the college football season. Many fans have been counting down the days.
    More >>
  • UAB names Cody Clements starting quarterback vs Troy

    UAB names Cody Clements starting quarterback vs Troy

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 3:13 PM EDT2014-08-26 19:13:29 GMT
    UAB will open the season with Cody Clements at quarterback. Clements, a junior college transfer from Cerritos College in California, beat out redshirt freshman Jeremiah Briscoe for the starting job.More >>
    UAB will open the season with Cody Clements at quarterback. Clements, a junior college transfer from Cerritos College in California, beat out redshirt freshman Jeremiah Briscoe for the starting job.More >>
  • UAB guard Chad Frazier granted his release from basketball program

    UAB guard Chad Frazier granted his release from basketball program

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 7:12 PM EDT2014-07-29 23:12:02 GMT
    The leading scorer on the UAB basketball team is leaving the program. Guard Chad Frazier was granted his release and will not return."Chad Frazier has been granted his release from our program," head coach Jerod Haase said in a statement. "We appreciate his contributions to our program and wish him the best." Frazier, a first team All-Conference USA selection, was arrested last month and charged with third degree domestic violence. The case was later dismissed.Frazier played one season at UAB...More >>
    The leading scorer on the UAB basketball team is leaving the program. Guard Chad Frazier was granted his release and will not return."Chad Frazier has been granted his release from our program," head coach Jerod Haase said in a statement. "We appreciate his contributions to our program and wish him the best." Frazier, a first team All-Conference USA selection, was arrested last month and charged with third degree domestic violence. The case was later dismissed.Frazier played one season at UAB...More >>
  • All other Local CollegesMore>>

  • Samford coach Pat Sullivan will not travel with team to TCU

    Samford coach Pat Sullivan will not travel with team to TCU

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 2:59 PM EDT2014-08-27 18:59:15 GMT
    Samford football coach Pat Sullivan will miss Saturday's season opener against TCU. The school announced that Sullivan has been advised against traveling by doctors while he recovers from offseason surgery."Unfortunately I will not be able to make the trip with my Samford team this weekend for our game against TCU," Sullivan said in a statement released through the school. "My doctors have advised me not to travel at this time due to a complication from a surgery earlier this year. We have an...More >>
    Samford football coach Pat Sullivan will miss Saturday's season opener against TCU. The school announced that Sullivan has been advised against traveling by doctors while he recovers from offseason surgery."Unfortunately I will not be able to make the trip with my Samford team this weekend for our game against TCU," Sullivan said in a statement released through the school. "My doctors have advised me not to travel at this time due to a complication from a surgery earlier this year. We have an...More >>
  • No. 8 Michigan State readies defense for opener against JSU

    No. 8 Michigan State readies defense for opener against JSU

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 7:54 PM EDT2014-08-26 23:54:33 GMT
    Mark Dantonio cares more about how Michigan State plays than how many plays Jacksonville State can run with its fast-tempo offense in Friday's season opener for both teams.More >>
    Mark Dantonio cares more about how Michigan State plays than how many plays Jacksonville State can run with its fast-tempo offense in Friday's season opener for both teams.
    More >>
  • TCU to play both QBs in opener against Samford

    TCU to play both QBs in opener against Samford

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 7:45 PM EDT2014-08-26 23:45:15 GMT
    Trevone Boykin is in the same position he was last year with TCU, again part of the unanswered question of who will be the starting quarterback only days before the season opener against Samford.More >>
    Trevone Boykin is in the same position he was last year with TCU, again part of the unanswered question of who will be the starting quarterback only days before the season opener against Samford.
    More >>