The Norman Transcript

Sports

June 28, 2014

U.S. hopes to boost World Cup attack against Belgium in knockout stage

SAO PAULO — No wonder the United States is having problems scoring at the World Cup: The Americans are hardly attacking.

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann is eager for the U.S. to create more chances in Tuesday’s second-round game against Belgium.

The U.S. had just 72 attacks during three group-stage games, according to FIFA. That ranked 31st among the 32 teams, ahead of only Costa Rica’s 69.

The Americans were dead last in attacks from the left with 21 and tied for last with Iran with 29 from the center. Right back Fabian Johnson seems to be providing the spark for most forays upfield, advancing more often than left back DaMarcus Beasley.

Midfielder Graham Zusi insists the approach and attitude must change if they are to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2002.

“The first minutes of the game, impose yourself, step on their toes a bit, get in their face,” he said.

The Americans know they have to surge upfield more often if they hope to reach a quarterfinal against Argentina or Switzerland — a lot more often.

A day after advancing despite a 1-0 loss to Germany in rainy Recife, they worked out at Sao Paulo Futebol Clube, where the temperature on the sunny day peaked at 81 degrees (27 Celsius), 12 (6 Celsius) above normal.

They plan to fly Sunday to Salvador, another beach city on the northeast coast for the matchup against Belgium. The Red Devils, back in soccer’s showcase after a 12-year absence, have won three straight World Cup games for the first time with one-goal victories over Algeria, Russia and South Korea. And their 136 attacks are seventh overall and nearly double the American total.

While Klinsmann wants his team to play attractive, attacking soccer, it hasn’t worked out that way. The Americans had scored in eight straight World Cup games before getting shut out Thursday.

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