Updated 03:22 PM EDT, Sat, Sep 18, 2021

The Four Keys to a U.S. Men's National Team Victory over Belgium at the 2014 World Cup Matchup

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Three years ago, the United States brought former German football manager Jurgen Klinsmann aboard following a knockout showing at the 2010 World Cup. His tenure didn't start out well.

Four losses and a draw brought skepticism about the new hire, and made their friendly with Italy that much more important. Somehow, Team USA defeated the four-time World Cup champions, 1-0, stopping a 10-match winless streak dating back eighty years.

Six months later, the USMNT shut out rival Mexico in Estadio Azteca -- their first-ever win in the stadium -- en route to their fifth CONCACAF Gold Cup.

If Klinsmann and the USMNT have shown us anything, it's to expect the unexpected.

Despite an early injury to target striker Jozy Altidore, the Americans persevered through a "Group of Death" many thought would be their downfall. They shocked Ghana before narrowly defeating powerhouse Portugal. Thanks to A Seleccao's last-second comeback, the U.S. had to wait a week to advance.

They face a young, potent Belgian team that expects to advance far beyond the Round of 16. Led by star midfielder Eden Hazard, Les Diables Rogues rolled to one goal victories over Algeria, Russia, and Korea, though none were given much of a chance.

The Belgian national team is made of Europe's top players who plan on giving American defenseman fits all day. They are a defensive-minded bunch who tied for fewest goals allowed through opening round play.

Needless to say, a USMNT victory over Belgium rests on the adjustments they make.

1. Field a Healthy Jozy Altidore

The Americans conquered Group G without one of their biggest names in Altidore. He went off after just 23 minutes of the opening group game with an apparent hamstring strain and hasn't returned.

Klinsmann says Altidore will be ready for Tuesday's clash with Belgium, giving the U.S. a much-needed deep theat. The question now becomes whether Altidore will start.

The Stars and Stripes adapted by having Clint Dempsey roam up the front in games against Portugal and Germany. They played without an out and out striker, a role in which Altidore flourished. He is vital to Klinsmann's 4-3-2-1 formation, netting eight goals in 14 appearances with the U.S. last year.

2. Get More Out of Michael Bradley

Michael Bradley has been the team's driving force at midfield over the last few years. His machine-like passing efficiency is crucial in setting up Dempsey and Altidore and played a key role in the team's five-game winning streak in 2012.

The 2014 World Cup, however, is a different story. Against Ghana, Bradley failed to take the ball to the corner in stoppage time before losing it to give the Ghanaians one last attack.

Versus Portugal, he took a bad touch at midfield and was robbed, leading to a heart-wrenching 95th-minute equalizer.

And against Germany, he was nonexistent offensively, mishandling the ball on the Americans' few offensive attacks.

Still, Bradley has shown heart. He ran more than any player from any country during group stage, averaging 7.86 miles per match. His distraught demeanor following the draw with Portugal shows how much Bradley cares, regardless of the cynicism (a #benchBradley hashtag is now trending).   

The U.S. needs Bradley in top form, and Bradley needs to be Team USA's engine up the middle once again.

3. Set the Tempo

Klinsmann's team has been passive over the last month, and not in the sense they'd like.

Against Ghana, overall passing accuracy reached just 73 percent, dropping to 53 percent in the final third of the field. It improved against Portugal, rising to a high of 86 percent before falling to 79 percent in a rain-soaked contest with Germany.

Passing has improved over the tournament, but not to the point where the Americans play to their own tempo. Spots of brilliance in the Portugal game didn't translate into their final opening round match, thanks in part to Germany's ability to pass in rhythm and control the match.

Facing a spry team like Belgium will be a problem if the U.S. can't implement a consistent game plan.

4. Contain Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bryne

Hazard is arguably one of the best players in the world. He's a Neymar or Messi without the international notoriety. The USMNT will have their hands full containing Hazard's masterful dribbling and tight play in close quarters.

Kevin De Bryne is a great talent who can deliver an excellent ball. The attacking midfielder is due for a big game after a relatively quiet first round. If Harzard and De Bryne are allowed to control the game, the U.S. will be making a second straight exit in the Round of 16.

The 23-year-old Hazard provided game-winning assists in victories over Russia and Algeria, but has yet to hit top form in Brazil. Teaming up with De Bryne will give the Belgians a creative, play-making duo that balances out their disciplined squad. They are an offensive volcano waiting to erupt.

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