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Last updated: June 28. 2014 12:42AM - 1138 Views
By Ronald Blum AP Sports Writer



Under coach Juergen Klinsmann, the United States managed to advance to the World Cup's knockoout round. The U.S. faces Belgium on Tuesday.
Under coach Juergen Klinsmann, the United States managed to advance to the World Cup's knockoout round. The U.S. faces Belgium on Tuesday.
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RECIFE, Brazil — Now that the U.S. has survived the so-called “Group of Death,” it’s time for sudden death: the knockout phase of the World Cup.


The Americans play Belgium on Tuesday night in the round of 16, hoping to show they’re better than the U.S. team that lost in overtime to Ghana in the second round four years ago.


“By no means are we satisfied with just getting out of the group,” midfielder Graham Zusi said Sunday after the Americans advanced despite a 1-0 loss to Germany. “We want to keep going and make some history.”


Belgium eased past the Americans 4-2 in a May 2013 exhibition at Cleveland on two goals by Christian Benteke (currently sidelined with a torn Achilles tendon), and one each from Marouane Fellaini and Kevin Mirallas. Two years earlier, Belgium won 1-0 in Brussels on Nicolas Lombaerts’ half-volley in the 55th minute in Jurgen Klinsmann’s first road game with the U.S.


“They’re a top team. Everyone around Europe will tell you how good they are,” American goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “They’ve got so many good players, young players, strong, fast, good on the ball. I actually think because of that we match up well with them, but we’ll see.”


Howard was a teammate at Everton last season with Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku and Mirallas, and played on the Toffees with Fellaini before the bushy-haired forward transferred to Manchester United last summer. The Red Devils, seeded in December’s draw and ranked 11th, are at their first major tournament since the 2002 World Cup, where they lost in the second round to eventual champion Brazil.


While the U.S. defeated Ghana 2-1 and drew Portugal 2-2 to advance on a goal-difference tiebreaker against the Portuguese, Belgium beat Algeria 2-1, Russia 1-0 and South Korea 1-0.


“It gives us so much confidence to get those nine points with only 10 men and prepare for the Americans in that mood,” defender Jan Vertonghen said Sunday after scoring the only goal as Belgium finished a man short.


The U.S., which reached the knockout stage of consecutive World Cups for the first time, returned to its Sao Paulo base Thursday night and looked forward to four days off before playing the Belgians in Salvador. The winner advances to a quarterfinal against Argentina or Switzerland.


“We’re excited about trying to go further than we did last World Cup and getting past this first game (of the knockout rounds),” captain Clint Dempsey said.


Jones’ nose broken


U.S. midfielder Jermaine Jones has a broken nose after Thursday’s game against Germany, but remains available to play in the round of 16 against Belgium on Tuesday in Salvador.


U.S. Soccer Federation spokesman Michael Kammarman said Friday that Jones and fellow midfielder Alejandro Bedoya each were checked on the field for concussion symptoms during the 1-0 loss at Recife following their second-half collision, and three more times since then. There were no issues for either player so far.


The team arrived back to its Sao Paulo hotel at 11 p.m. Thursday night, and Bedoya and Jones were examined again Friday morning.


Jones won’t wear a protective mask and the fracture hasn’t caused discoloration in the area.


“I don’t remember really what happened. I went for a header,” Jones said. “The feeling was that it was broken.”


Kammarman added that Jones’ injury doesn’t appear serious, as there is no visible bruising of the like Dempsey had when he broke his nose in the Ghana game.


“He looks unaffected. You can’t even see any discoloration,” Kammarman said. “So it appears to be a minor fracture. He is fine, he’s available to play.”


Forward Jozy Altidore’s status for the knockout stage remains unclear, though he is making positive progress since straining his left hamstring in the first half of the Americans’ opening win against Ghana on June 16. He ran at a good pace around the field without any signs of pain under sunny skies at Sao Paulo Futebol Clube on Friday morning and did some stretching on the sideline with the assistance of the training staff. He has run several times now without further problems.


“We are very optimistic. Every day is a big step forward with Jozy,” coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “It’s 11 days now and it’s looking better every day, so we are optimistic we have him being a part of the Belgium game.”


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