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World Cup Day 20: Five Thoughts

Tim Howard, Tim Howard, Tim Howard. Day 20 of World Cup 2014 will be remembered for the Tim Howard show, even as it ultimately proved just short of enough.

Kevin C. Cox

Tim Howard

The U.S. #1 made fifteen or sixteen (multiple sources have it recorded different ways) saves against Belgium – the most by any goalkeeper in one match in the history of the World Cup.

Did I mention Tim Howard?

I did, well so did Vincent Kompany.

Argentina through – but convince few

It took a goal in the 118th minute for Argentina to squeak past Switzerland and claim a spot in the quarterfinals, but it was yet another performance from the South Americans that will do little convince the doubters. Messi, for the fourth straight game, pulled the strings (and pushed the cart, and bought the groceries, and mowed the lawn) for an Argentina side that simply don’t look capable of the free flowing, expansive football many of us expected.

While Di Maria ultimately scored the winner, it was set up on a superb – albeit, routine – dribble and pass from Messi, avoiding a sliding defender with the all the ease of a Julian Green wonder goal (sorry, I had to).

Belgium survive the U.S.’s late heroics

In an enthralling match that treated viewers to one of the most exciting extra-time periods I can remember, it was Belgium who booked their ticket to the quarterfinal in Brasilia. Tim Howard backstopped the U.S. to a 0-0 scoreline, stopping shot after shot until Kevin De Bruyne’s opener in the second minute of extra-time. Lukaku made it 2-0 twelve minutes later, but the Americans weren’t finished. Julian Green scored a worldie in the 107th minute, volleying Michael Bradley’s forty yard chipped pass past Thibaut Courtois. Then came the heartbreaking chances as Jermaine Jones sent a slicing effort just wide of the post and of course the set piece to end all set pieces. But alas, Courtois thwarted Dempsey at the end.

To all the new fans that sport might have earned tonight, I’ll let Brian Phillips give you an official introduction in a way only he could.

The future of the USMNT appears to be in good hands

Remember when Klinsmann was criticized for naming John Anthony Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin and Julian Green to his final 23-man roster? That criticism looks laughable considering their contributions to this World Cup campaign. Brooks, of course, scored the winner against Ghana in the opening match, Yedlin had a bit of a coming out party in relief of the injured Fabian Johnson and Julian Green scored a sublime over the shoulder volley that gave the U.S. hope for the final 12 minutes.