Keys for U.S. to beat Belgium

What the USMNT must do to advance past the round of 16

Updated: July 1, 2014, 2:47 PM ET
By Adrian Melville | ESPN Insider

Odd Andersen/AFP Photo/Getty ImagesJermaine Jones' play on both ends of the pitch will be crucial for the U.S. in Tuesday's match.
The euphoria that came along with advancing out of the "group of death" has provided a large boost to the United States. The team now moves on to play a young, talented Belgium team in the round of 16.

Belgium has talent all over the field and a roster including Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany and Thibaut Courtois that's good enough to intimidate any team in the tournament. However, Belgium has also yet to be tested to its full potential and has struggled to collectively find an offensive rhythm in both World Cup qualifying games and during the tournament itself.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has proved that it can remain competitive with the best teams in the world for an entire game, but it has not fully been able to impose its will on any particular opponent in the World Cup so far. Belgium is not invincible, but there are certain aspects of this round-of-16 matchup that the U.S. must take advantage of in order to move on.

Here are my keys to the U.S. advancing past Belgium and into the quarterfinal round:

One-on-one defending

Belgium managed just four combined goals against Group H opponents Algeria, Russia and South Korea, and at times looked disjointed in its attacks. The team also underwhelmed in UEFA World Cup qualifying with just 18 goals scored in its 10 games (Germany led UEFA with 36 goals).

Still, Belgium is a team that can score in bunches and is aggressive in running at defenders in the attacking third. Belgium attackers will look to dribble past the U.S. side more than Germany did. As such, one-on-one defending will be critical for the United States if the Yanks are to slow down the opposition.

ESPN Stats & InfomationMap of Belgium's take-ons in attacking third for 2014 World Cup, left, and Germany's take-ons in attacking third, right.