It's brutally incongruous, being a U.S. soccer fan. If Christopher Lloyd had rolled up in his DeLorean four weeks ago and said the U.S. would advance out of the Group of Death at the World Cup but lose a hard-fought, 2-1 contest to Belgium in the Round of 16, my first reaction would have been pride at America's performance. But in the present, when that exact scenario has played out, I feel mainly devastation.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s team put up a spirited fight against Belgium, thanks largely to the spectacular play of U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard. At one point, the match was tied 0-0 despite the Belgians having 14 shots on goal to the Americans' two. But the extra-time addition of forward Romelu Lukaku to Belgium's lineup proved the difference, with Lukaku creating one goal and scoring another himself in the first half of extra time to give the Red Devils a 2-0 lead they would not relinquish.
The U.S. will agonize over the near brushes with glory it had, particularly Chris Wondolowski's point-blank chance in the 92nd minute that ended in disaster when the second-half sub touched the ball harmlessly over the crossbar. And after Julian Green's goal in the 107th minute cut the Belgian lead to 2-1, Clint Dempsey had a clear opportunity after a clever American passing sequence off a free kick, only to see his shot swallowed up by goalie Thibaut Courtois. That proved to be the U.S.'s last, best shot to send the game to a penalty shootout.