2014 World Cup, United States vs Belgium - Preview

Clive Brunskill

With Jozy Altidore back, how can the US beat the pesky Belgian side?

The United States come into Tuesday's game against Belgium as underdogs. Then again they've come into nearly every game in this tournament as such, so why would any other game be different?

Salvador is the location for Tuesday's game in the Round of 16 as the US hope to reach the quarterfinals of a World Cup for the first time since 2002. Belgium is looking to reach the quarterfinals for only the second time in their history.

For the US to continue to make history, they have plenty of work to do against a very solid Belgian side that had little trouble leaving Group H with all nine points.

Injury Update

The Belgian side enters the knockout round with a lot of injuries, more so than the US. Reports from Belgian reporters at training on Sunday also confirmed that Vincent Kompany (groin) and Anthony Vanden Borre (broken fibula) sat out the session, while Thomas Vermaelen (hamstring) trained on the side.

Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini left the training field early in the final session on Sunday as well.

Kompany is expected to play on Tuesday but with so many questions on this team, the US may have the advantage due to their fitness.

Unlock Bradley

Let's go ahead and say it, Michael Bradley was mostly garbage in the group stage games. He covered a ton of ground for sure, which is always, typically a good thing for a player in his position. But his touches and time on the ball was rather poor in the three games.

Jurgen Klinsmann will want to find ways to unlock Bradley's true game against Belgium. To do so he may need to slide him back into the midfield a little more, having Jozy Altidore will help as he will allow Clint Dempsey to take over the responsibilities in the top of the midfield attacking core.

Playing Bradley next to Kyle Beckerman will be the key. Beckerman does the dirty work while Bradley can remain cool and calm on the ball.

Trapping Hazard

Eden Hazard is a brilliant player. There is no doubt about that. His play against Russia in the group stage confirmed what I already knew about the Chelsea star. The 23-year old did struggle at times against Algeria and South Korea though, something the US will want to explore more.

The thing with Hazard is his play along the sideline. If you trap him on the wings and limit his ability to cut inside, then you stand a good chance of making sure that he doesn't get the open looks that he and his teammates are so fond of. That means Fabian Johnson and DeMarcus Beasley need to make sure he doesn't get in and around him along the touchline.

Limit Hazard, you limit the Belgian attack.

Unleash Jones

As much as I want Bradley sitting back a little more in the midfield in this one, I want Jermaine Jones free and active in the attacking portion of the field. Without a question Jones was the key player for the US to get out of the group stage and he will have to be a key tomorrow.

I want to see Jones more free along the wings and just as physical as we saw against Germany. Naturally I don't want to see him get carded but he's done well to only pick up a single yellow in this tournament with the amount of energy he is using on the field.

What do you think tomorrow's game will bring? Post your thought below.

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