What's past is prologue; today we get to the real thing. The United States begins its time in the knockout rounds, taking on pre-tournament darling Belgium. However, the Belgians have not played up to the expectations that have been foisted upon them, and the United States is a team that pulls upsets from time to time. It is America versus Belgium, Biscuits versus Waffles, and a chance to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2002.
Kickoff time: 4:00 PM EDT
Venue: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
TV/Streaming: As with all USMNT games, it is on ESPN and WatchESPN for your English-language viewing pleasure. Those of you who prefer Spanish-language can find the game on Univision and Univision's website.
Projected USA Starting XI: The United States will call upon its full strength starting XI, which means no Brad Davis. It does, however, mean that Tim Howard will start in goal, with Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler, and DaMarcus Beasley in front of him. The central midfield will be Kyle Beckerman, Jermaine Jones, and Michael Bradley, with Alejandro Bedoya and Graham Zusi shuttling on the outside. Clint Dempsey will start at striker.
Prediction: I went with a 2-1 loss for the United States in our predictions thread, but I can't bring that pessimism in here. A tight 1-0 victory for the USA to set up a possible match against Argentina (unless something crazy happens in the other game).
What are you drinking? Local American beer; I'll update with what I find below.
Get ready. Here it comes.