It's been a great ride so far for the United States in this FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Yes, their record stands as 1-1-1, including the 1-0 loss to Germany last game, but their goal difference was good enough to see themselves through to the 2nd round ahead of Portugal.
Standing in the way of an American appearance in the quarterfinals for just the 2nd time in their history was Belgium, one of the perceived "darkhorses" of the tournament and a trendy pick to make a deep run into potentially the final, if not the semifinal. They hadn't been at their best in group stage, but they won all 3 of their matches (all by a 1 goal margin) to win their group and play the US tonight in Salvador.
Belgium bombarded the US goal for virtually the entire match, but could not get past the amazing goalkeeping prowess of Tim Howard through 90 minutes of regulation. All of Belgium's chances were either saved, off the bar, or wide of the goal, and an additional 30 minutes were needed to decide a winner.
Unfortunately for the Americans, Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne provided his country the breakthrough they needed in the 93rd minute for the 1-0 lead. Romelu Lukaku later doubled Belgium's lead in the 105th minute and all hope seemed lost, but an inspired substitution by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann sparked a frantic last 15 minutes of the game. The 19-year-old Julian Green pulled one back for the US and rekindled hope of potentially dragging the game into a penalty shootout if not a win outright, but last-ditch chances were squandered and Belgium advance in thrilling fashion. In a losing effort, Tim Howard was credited with 16 saves, which is the most in a World Cup match since 1966.
This is a chronological look (from top to bottom) of how familiar faces of MMA tweeted throughout the game, including Belgian UFC welterweight contender Tarec Saffiedine, whose posts are drowned in a sea of US-centric comments:
IT’S TIMEEE !! (Bruce Buffer Voice) #USA— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) July 1, 2014
Nik Lentz (@NikLentz) July 1, 2014
Manny Gamburyan (@MannyGamburyan) July 1, 2014
Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunsonMMA) July 1, 2014
Cheering for USA soccer team...— Antonio Pezao Silva (@BigfootSilva) July 1, 2014
Raphael Assuncao (@RaphaAssuncao) July 1, 2014
Team USA! Second half vs. Belgium is about to begin. Maybe our guys need some of my energy @musclepharm— Clay Guida (@clayguida) July 1, 2014
Chris Weidman (@ChrisWeidmanUFC) July 1, 2014
Howard is a #Beast— Cub Swanson (@CubSwanson) July 1, 2014
If USA go through tonight Tim Howard for president he gets my vote— Ross Pearson (@RossTheRealDeal) July 1, 2014
Tim Howard for president!!! http://t.co/TF1Ot6QBsI— Ross Pearson (@RossTheRealDeal) July 1, 2014
Even I'm watching the USA vs Belgium game @OCFIGHTDOCS laughing ... How are they that much better and still can't score?— Ian McCall (@Unclecreepymma) July 1, 2014
Howard is an animal! #USAvsBEL— Jerome-Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) July 1, 2014
Same as last night that's bollox— Neil 2 Tap Seery (@NeilSeeryMMA) July 1, 2014
Smh cant slip up like that!!!— Sean Soriano (@ssorianoMMA) July 1, 2014
Game over bed time— Neil 2 Tap Seery (@NeilSeeryMMA) July 1, 2014
Momentum shift! Lets go!— Chris Weidman (@ChrisWeidmanUFC) July 1, 2014
Cmon let keep fighting !!!!!!— Sean Soriano (@ssorianoMMA) July 1, 2014
It ain't over until its over #BELUSA— Tarec Saffiedine (@tarecfighter) July 1, 2014
Pascal Krauss (@pascalkrauss) July 1, 2014
USA tryna get it done today!!!— Clint Hester (@clinthester) July 1, 2014
Bleep bleep bleep that's all folks— Clint Hester (@clinthester) July 1, 2014
Rafael dos Anjos (@RdosAnjosMMA) July 1, 2014
It's another heartbreaking elimination in the round of 16 for the USA, who were knocked out 2-1 against Ghana in 2010 in extra time, and are out of the World Cup by the same scoreline against the triumphant Belgians, who will play Argentina in the quarterfinals. They join Brazil, Colombia, Germany, France, Netherlands, and Costa Rica for the right to march on to next week's semifinals.