What the U.S. needs to do to defeat Belgium

Five things the U.S. needs to do to defeat Belgium

There should be no resting on any laurels by Team USA. No resting on anything, for that matter. The Americans, of modest talent, have survived this far into the World Cup with an overflow of effort and need to remain Energizer Bunnies for 90 minutes (or two hours) against Belgium.

Here are five more planks for a potentially winning campaign:

--Bring up the back line to create more early chances. The U.S. resisted coach Juergen Klinsmann's appeals from the sideline to do so against Germany, and threats were too few. The Belgians' habit of starting slowly makes them vulnerable to falling behind. A quick lead would be colossal for the Yanks.

--Earn a standoff, at worst, in the midfield. Michael Bradley might have covered more ground than anybody in the group stage, according to an esoteric statistic, but his accomplishments-per-mile ratio was low. Belgium's midfield is imposing. Still, the U.S. should aspire to a stalemate, particularly if Klinsmann continues with five starters there.

--Keep sending the fullbacks forward on the flanks. The strategy has clicked, with Fabian Johnson notably effective. Belgium might be exposed if it resorts to injury fill-ins on defense who are unaccustomed to the tactic.

--Do not rush Jozy Altidore back. If Team USA's lone genuine striker has healed from the strained hamstring, give him some minutes. But starting him might be inadvisable, given the limit on substitutions and the prospects of a game lasting 120-plus minutes.

--Avoid more broken noses. Clint Dempsey and Jermaine Jones, the main offensive threats to date, are gasping a bit because of busted beaks. The U.S. is better off if the pair is playing well enough to take away the breath of viewers than having their own breath taken away.    

Copyright © 2018, CT Now