UEFA Champions League
Previous
Aktobe Lento
Dinamo Tbilisi
3
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 4 - 0
Game Details
FK Ventspils
Malmo FF
0
1
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 1
Game Details
HJK Helsinki
Rabotnicki Kometal
2
1
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 1
Game Details
Steaua Bucuresti
Stromsgodset
2
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 0
Game Details
NK Maribor
Zrinjski Mostar
2
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 0
Game Details
St Patricks
Legia Warsaw
0
5
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 6
Game Details
San Jose
Chicago
5
1
FT
Game Details
FC Aarau
FC Sion Sitten
1
0
FT
Game Details
FC Zürich
FC Thun
2
1
FT
Game Details
San Lorenzo
Bolívar
5
0
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Arsenal de Sarandí
Instituto de Córdoba
0
0
FT
Game Details
Godoy Cruz de Mendoza
Defensa y Justicia
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Ceará
Chapecoense AF
1
1
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 2
Game Details
Avaí
Palmeiras
0
2
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
ABC
Novo Hamburgo
1
0
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Santa Cruz FC
Botafogo da Paraiba
2
1
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 2
Game Details
AA Ponte Preta
CR Vasco da Gama
0
2
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Corinthians
Bahia
3
0
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Alianza Lima
Sport Huancayo
0
0
FT
Game Details
U. Católica
Mushuc Runa
Postp
Game Details
Emelec
Deportivo Quito
Postp
Game Details
Independiente del Valle
Club Deportivo Cuenca
Postp
Game Details
Olmedo
El Nacional
Postp
Game Details
Liga de Loja
LDU Quito
Postp
Game Details
Manta F.C.
Barcelona
Postp
Game Details
Albirex Niigata
FC Tokyo
0
1
FT
Game Details
Gamba Osaka
Shimizu S-Pulse
4
0
FT
Game Details
Kashima Antlers
Omiya Ardija
2
2
FT
Game Details
Sagan Tosu
Kawasaki Frontale
0
1
FT
Game Details
Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Kashiwa Reysol
5
2
FT
Game Details
Tokushima Vortis
Urawa Red Diamonds
0
2
FT
Game Details
Vantforet Kofu
Cerezo Osaka
0
0
FT
Game Details
Vegalta Sendai
Nagoya Grampus Eight
3
3
FT
Game Details
Yokohama F. Marinos
Vissel Kobe
1
1
FT
Game Details
Washington Spirit
Portland Thorns FC
1
1
FT
Game Details
Next

Marcotti: A tournament to remember

World Cup Jul 14, 2014
Read
Jun 30, 2014

Do you believe in the U.S.?

United States train at Estadio Roberto Santos in Salvador as their match stadium was unavailable. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann confirms Jozy Altidore is available for the tie after suffering a hamstring injury early in the first match of the group.

SALVADOR, Brazil -- It seems like yesterday rather than four years ago and an ocean away. On that night in South Africa, the U.S. needed a goal to stay alive -- needed a goal just to advance out of the group stage of the 2010 World Cup -- and there was so little time left. Algeria pressed forward, pushing as many as seven men up, and the U.S. bent back, looking for any chance to counter.

It's hard to describe what the stadium felt like in those moments. The Americans in the crowd had gone to an unusual place for Americans, past the far edge of their usual spectrum of expectation. At one end there's certainty, the confidence of knowing. Closer to the middle there's belief and then faith. Then comes optimism, and then comes hope. And then comes how it felt in the dying seconds of that unforgettable night. That's where the Americans were back then.

Heading into Tuesday's knockout match against Belgium, the U.S. and its supporters are, for the moment, at a far different station. Before the thinning armies of American fans had even dragged themselves into sunny Salvador, many were already making plans for their next stop: Brasilia, where, depending on your own position on that spectrum, the U.S. either will play its quarterfinal, or it would play its quarterfinal, if only.

On the face of things, buying plane tickets seems a little brave. The Americans did well to survive the Group of Death, but they advanced on a loss, and their best game had seen them earn only a tie. The Belgians won all three of their group-stage matches -- yes, against a far weaker draw -- allowing only a single goal. And yet it's the Belgians who now seem to be trading places with the Americans, edging toward doubt's end.

That's partly because Jozy Altidore might play, and Vincent Kompany might not.

It's more because in the long, slow build to this tournament, the poor Belgians were burdened with the worst mantle in sports: dark horse.

U.S. vs. Belgium: Tuesday, 4 ET (ESPN and WatchESPN)

- Chris Jones: U.S. belief grows
- Doug McIntyre: Klinsmann pulls out the tricks
- Jeff Carlisle: Altidore's role vs. Belgium
- Jeff Carlisle: Klinsmann justified so far
- Roger Bennett: How far can the U.S. go?
- Doug McIntyre: Beasley's U.S. rebirth
- Read: Tim Howard assesses Belgian attack

The problem with dark horses is that they are saddled with all of destiny's pressure with half of the justification. They are not favorites, because they are not the best and never have been. In fact, there are several better bets. Dark horses are just good enough to make someone, somewhere, wonder. And then that wondering gets whipped by some mysterious consensus into something far closer to certainty than it has any right to be. For dark horses, that's the hole in the track. Even mighty Brazil seems doomed by the load that they're carrying. Dark horses have even harsher luck. They are forced to bear the same weight but on weaker legs.

The gift and curse of games is that none of us can truly know how they will finish. This World Cup has proved once again that certainty is only an illusion. Which means that sometimes the longest shots come through, like on that magical night in South Africa. At some desperate point, past which there no longer seems even a slim chance for success, what you feel is a collective letting go. That's the release that allows miracles to happen.

The Americans might soon find themselves returning to that distant edge. They might need Tim Howard to make another save and another long throw to this year's version of Landon Donovan. They more than likely will, if history and geography and their lessons hold. How much has really changed in four years? What difference is an ocean?

But right now in Salvador, it doesn't feel like anyone's letting go just yet. Right now, it feels better than hope, and it feels better than optimism, and it feels better than faith. It feels like belief, and for a team that shouldn't win, there's no better feeling in the world.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.