The dream is over, and "#belief" has been replaced with fact. Indeed, Team USA mathematically cannot win. The United States' rousing run at the World Cup ended Tuesday afternoon with an extra-time 2-1 loss to Belgium. Tim Howard put the United States on his back all game, recording a World Cup record 16 saves in quite possibly the best performance of his career.
But that doesn't mean America has anything to be ashamed of. In fact, on the pitch and off -- and at bars and watch parties across Dade County -- the U.S. of A. put on a helluva show yesterday.
Down in Brazil, Belgium peppered Howard all game long with strikes from all over the pitch but couldn't find a way to break through until early extra time.
Howard was in beast mode all game long, a historic performance for the keeper in the biggest game of his life.
His 16 saves are the most by a keeper in a Cup game in nearly 50 years, dating back to 1966 when the game started keeping records. Time and time again, Timmy came up big for the Yanks, erasing defenders' mistakes, slapping balls over the net, and kick-saving shots wide, but even an all-time-otherworldly performance couldn't prevent every Belgium ball from finding the net. Howard couldn't put up the bricks fast enough in this one; every time he put one up, a Belgium strike knocked three down.
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Belgium finally scored in extra time, and a few minutes later striker Lukaku cracked the Tim Howard code for a second time, all but icing the game. Nineteen-year-old Julian Green, the man taken to Brazil in Landon Donovan's place, scored late to provide a glimmer of hope, but the United States' luck finally ran out.
American fans should have finally put to bed the notion that they don't back their team, and Miami was a prime example of the fervent support. A pop-up tent called Wynood Stadium hosted Watch the Cup, an official FIFA watch party, where face-painted, flag-draped, vuvuzela-toting Yanks backers went crazy for the entire nail-biting 120-minute match, right up until Belgium scored its two late goals to end the U.S.'s run: