SALVADOR, Brazil – The United States’ World Cup dream ended on Tuesday night with a 2-1 extra-time defeat to Belgium in the round of 16.
After the Americans clung on desperately to keep the game scoreless after 90 minutes of regulation, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku struck in the first additional period to knock the U.S. out of the tournament.
Late substitute Julian Green got one back for the U.S. with 13 minutes to go, but it was not enough to avoid being eliminated at this stage for the second straight World Cup.
Depleted by injuries and visibly exhausted, Jurgen Klinsmann’s side had to withstand a near-constant attacking onslaught from a talented Belgian side that will now face Argentina in the quarterfinal.
However, after going two goals down the response from the U.S. was one of extraordinary courage. Green, the 19-year-old whose inclusion sparked such controversy, made a near-instant impact, volleying home Michael Bradley’s chip just minutes after replacing Alejandro Bedoya.
With eight minutes left a well-worked free-kick found Clint Dempsey in the box, but the U.S. captain’s shot was saved by Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
And so an extraordinary journey, one that saw the team progress from the Group of Death and exhilarate the nation in the process, finally came to an end after a thrilling and emotional ride.
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