By JIM METCALFE
What to make of the United States losing a 2-1 heart-breaker in the World Cup quarterfinals to Belgium?
I will lend my voice — or my keyboard, since this is a computer — to the many that have praised the work of long-time US goalkeeper Tim Howard.
He was outstanding/awesome/incredible — some might even write mediocre! — against incredible pressure, especially considering the circumstances and environment in which the teams squared off.
Let’s face it: the Americans would have lost in regulation had it not been for his heroics, the Belgians were that dominant.
At some point, though, when you give a team as skilled as Belgium that many chances — that many relatively open looks — you could have an octopus back there and he wouldn’t be able to stop all of them.
I put the “blame” where it belongs: in the midfield and back line.
Even there, it isn’t so much blame — they are very competent players we have in those spots and they belong on the World Cup roster — as a lack of real execution of the game plan.
The reason the Belgians had so many good looks is because our team’s ball possession was so poor.
Ask any coach around here — or any where, for that matter, at any level — and they will tell you that you can run the most sophisticated schemes, have the greatest “shapes” — a word that gets bandied about a lot during the World Cup — in their offensive or defensive sets but it doesn’t matter if you never have the ball.
I for one just think it came down to the better team winning the match.
Their players simply have worked at the game a lot longer and a lot more than “our” boys; they have grown up with it and played it at a higher level for a lot longer.