The United States soccer team was defeated by Belgium 2-1 in the World Cup Round of 16 on Tuesday.
Belgium advanced into the quarterfinals. The tournament is over for America.
Both teams were scoreless through 90 minutes. In overtime, Belgium scored in the 93rd minute and again in the 105th. America’s Julian Green tallied in the 107th minute.
“We really needed our defense to play better today,” said Pat Rox, the girls head coach at Copperas Cove. “We needed our offense to get going before the last 10 minutes of the contest, too.
“Our goalie (Tim Howard) played exceptionally well. But you can’t ask your keeper to stop 16 shots. His 16 saves were a World Cup record, which means your defense was letting you down.”
Rox said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s late-May decision to leave Landon Donovan — America’s all-time leading World Cup scorer — off the team was a poor move.
“That move has me puzzled most of all,” Rox said. “I don’t get that at all. I think Landon could have made the difference in the team getting further. I still have a hard time believing there were 23 people better than him.”
Belton High boys’ head coach Cizo Mosnia, who played for Eastern University (class of 1975) and then the Chicago Sting, said America gained a valuable lesson in this World Cup.
“We need to stress to kids: skills, skills, skills,” he said. “Technically, as the TV commentators were saying, Belgium was a lot better than America today. Belgium had better ball control and
they didn’t get rattled.
“Currently, in the U.S.A., even with kids under age 12, we put them in tournaments, and stress winning big trophies. If we just stress to these kids that they keep learning the very basics, winning will take its course. Learn to play the game, then you learn to win.
“But the U.S.A. still played very hard in this World Cup. America always plays very hard and with a lot of heart.”
Killeen girls head coach Richard Romeo played for Boston University (class of 1978) and then semi-professionally.
“It was a fantastic game against Belgium today,” Romeo said. “We weathered the storm for the first 90 minutes. Our goalie, Tim Howard, was absolutely outstanding — he kept us in the game.
“America should be proud of this team. They played a fantastic game. Even down 2-0 in the extra time, we hung in there. We had Belgium on the ropes. We were unlucky not to get some early goals.”
Romeo said the 2014 World Cup should prove helpful in growing the sport’s popularity in America.
“This World Cup has done wonders for the sport of soccer here in America,” he said. “There were huge viewing parties, huge stadiums across America watching the games on big-screen televisions. This didn’t exist in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s or even all that recently. It wasn’t too long ago that the only way us soccer fans could watch the World Cup was on the Spanish-speaking stations.
“Soccer has come a long way in America.”
Contact Allan Mandell at email@example.com or 254-501-7566 and read his column at KDHPressbox.com