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USA vs. Belgium: The good, bad and ugly

The United States showed some fight toward the end of its 2-1 extra-time loss to Belgium. Goal looks back at the good, bad and ugly from Tuesday's match.

The United States was eliminated from the World Cup by Belgium after a 2-1 defeat. Tim Howard turned in a standout performance, but Belgium coach Marc Wilmots' introduction of Romelo Lukaku was too much for the Americans to overcome as the striker helped set up the Red Devils' opener and scored a second of his own.

The loss means Jurgen Klinsmann's men are headed home, while Belgium moves on to face Argentina in the quarterfinals. Here is the good, bad and ugly from the USA's 2-1 loss to Belgium.

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The Good

Tim Howard's stunning show: CONCACAF cohorts Guillermo Ochoa and Keylor Navas have stolen headlines this tournament. Some fans called for back-up Brad Guzan to take over the number one role during qualifying. But the U.S. goalkeeper with the most caps proved he's not only in his role because of longevity. His positioning was spot on and when his defenders failed him, his legs didn't. Howard ended with 16 saves. Julian Green and DeAndre Yedlin showed there's hope for the future. The next class of a region ruled by goalkeepers is rising up. But when his team needed him most, Howard was on the throne where he's been for years. Long live the king.

The Bad

The other 10 guys for all but the last moments: Jurgen Klinsmann's men ended the match with moments Americans will remember fondly for ages: Green's goal, Michael Bradley's determination, a lovely set piece that just nearly came off. That's good because it's doubtful anyone will want to recall the previous 115 minutes. For long stretches, the defense was stuck in its own 18-yard box as Belgium tried shot after shot, like a tween trying to win a prize for his girlfriend at the state fair. Howard could play the crooked carny denying hopefuls with unscrupulous methods only so long, and Kevin De Bruyne had to be awarded an overstuffed teddy bear. Romelu Lukaku was more than he could take. 

The Ugly

Another hammy pull: Yedlin was excellent in Fabian Johnson's stead, but the mind can't help but wonder what Johnson might have provided or if Yedlin could've been more effective deployed farther up the pitch. Klinsmann didn't have that luxury, with his hand forced into a 32nd-minute substitution. Jozy Altidore was declared ready for this match, but that looks to have been nothing but gamesmanship from the USA camp as Chris Wondolowski was inserted into the match for attacking assistance. His gift of a chance late in regulation drew some confusion as the assistant referee signaled for something, but it mattered little as the chance sailed over. Had Johnson or Altidore been fit, it could've been a very different feeling for Americans after this match. As it is, there is pride but also sorrow. It will be another four years before the U.S. can contest the World Cup again.

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