'Group of Death' survived, U.S. aim to stay alive v Belgium

Fri Jun 27, 2014 1:05pm EDT
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By Simon Evans

(Reuters) - It was considered the 'Group of Death' in the United States but Juergen Klinsmann's team emerged from Group G to earn a second-round clash with Belgium and now believe they can really make the world sit up and take notice.

Victory over Ghana, a 2-2 draw with Portugal and a 1-0 loss to Germany was enough for the Americans to make it into the last 16 against the predictions of many.

"Before this tournament started, no one was talking that America can come to the next round. It was always Portugal and Germany,” said combative midfielder Jermaine Jones, the U.S.'s outstanding player so far who got a superb goal against Ghana.

The decision to leave the country's all-time top scorer Landon Donovan out of the squad caused considerable debate in the U.S., as did some of Klinsmann's other selection choices, but Jones believes the coach got it right.

“We showed people that we have a good team and we have a good atmosphere in the group. Everything that the coach did before the tournament, who he sent home and who he took for the team, I think was a good decision,” he said.

“The team showed heart and gave good feedback. Now for the next game, it's the same tough game as Germany was. Belgium have a lot of experienced players, good players from different good clubs. It's a knockout game and we have to see it like a final,” he said.

Clint Dempsey, who has been pushed into a more advanced center-forward role in the absence of the injured Jozy Altidore, knows that form from the group stage counts for little in the knockout phase.


U.S. national soccer team players pose for photographs before the start of their 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match against Germany at the Pernambuco arena in Recife June 26, 2014.  REUTERS/Yves Herman