US World Cup Ends with 2-1 OT Loss to Belgium

US World Cup Ends with 2-1 OT Loss to Belgium

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Rio De Janeiro, Brazil - They captured the eyes and hearts of a suddenly awakened soccer nation, who gathered in unprecedented numbers to watch the world's game. But the end of the ride came at the exact same point as four years ago: with an overtime loss in the World Cup's round of 16.

Kevin De Bruyne finally beat goalkeeper Tim Howard in the third minute of extra time, Romelu Lukaku scored 12 minutes later to give Belgium a two-goal lead, and the Red Devils hung on for a 2-1 victory Tuesday night.

Before exiting, the U.S. showed the spunk that captured America's attention. Julian Green, at 19 the youngest player on the U.S. roster, stuck out his right foot to volley in Michael Bradley's pass over the defense in the 107th minute, two minutes after entering the game.

They nearly tied it up in the 114th, when Clint Dempsey peeled off the ball and was stopped point-blank by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois after being fed by Bradley on a free kick.

But it wasn't enough, and U.S. players fell to the field at the final whistle in their all-white uniforms like so many crumpled tissues.


SAO PAULO (AP) -- Switzerland's 1-0 loss to Argentina Tuesday was likely the last game of coach Ottmar Hitzfeld's long career and capped an emotional 24 hours for the German-born coach following the death of his older brother.
 
   Prior to the game, team spokesman Marco von Ah said Hitzfeld was "very sad" but was determined to stay with the team for its crucial game against the two-time world champions, which it lost after a goal in the 118th minute.
 
   The team said 81-year-old Winfried Hitzfeld died in Switzerland after a long battle with blood cancer. It provided no other details.
 
   "He wants to look forward. He wants everybody to do so and respect his private sphere," said von Ah.
 
   Under Hitzfeld, Switzerland lost only once in 18 matches over the two years leading up to the World Cup and reached No. 6 in the FIFA rankings.
 
   A win over Argentina would have equaled Switzerland's greatest World Cup achievement, putting them in the quarterfinals for the first since it hosted the tournament in 1954.
 
   The 65-year-old Hitzfeld had said previously he would retire after the tournament. Prior to his postgame press conference, a Swiss official asked reporters not to ask the coach about his late brother saying he would like his privacy to be respected.
 
   Several of his players, though, offered condolences after their emotional loss to Argentina.
 
   "For him, it must be very difficult right now. What I can say is that he showed true leadership because it would have been hard for him this morning but he concentrated on the game," said Swiss defender Johan Djourou. "He can be very proud of what he achieved with the national team."
 
   Midfielder Gelson Fernandes said the coach did not mention his brother in the changing room but all the players were aware of the situation and fought extra hard to get Hitzfeld the win.
 
   "He stayed strong. He gave us confidence and he was really, really strong," he said. "I am of course sad for his family and I wish him all the best in the future because he is not just a great manager, he is a great man." 
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