A miraculous comeback fell just short for the US national team, which was eliminated 2-1 after extratime by Belgium in the World Cup Round of 16 on Tuesday. The Belgians advanced to face Argentina in the quarterfinals.
After a gutsy performance in which they held the World Cup darkhorse scoreless through 90 minutes of regulation, the USA conceded just three minutes into the 30-minute extratime period as Kevin De Bruyne finally broke the US resistance. Substitute Romelu Lukaku then added a second in the 105th minute.
The USA got a glimmer of hope after a goal by youngster Julian Green in the 107th minute on a fantastic feed from Toronto FC star Michael Bradley. But ultimately they could not overcome the deficit, although Seattle Sounders captain Clint Dempsey nearly got an equalizer on a point-blank shot with just six minutes remaining.
Before the frantic extratime finish, the USA held Belgium at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador thanks in large part to a stout defensive performance from MLS centerbacks Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler and punctuated by a superhuman showing by goalkeeper Tim Howard, who made 11 saves during regulation.
But the former MLS shot-stopper barely missed blocking De Bruyne's shot in the 93rd minute after he picked up a loose ball in the box and fired low into the left corner. And there was nothing Howard could do on the blast by Lukaku, who unleashed a left-footed blast on a breakaway as the US pushed forward for the equalizer.
Seattle Sounders right back DeAndre Yedlin came off the bench in the 32nd minute for starter Fabian Johnson, who suffered a strained left hamstring and the youngster was one of the highlights of the evening.