BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – While Brian McBride admits that facing a Belgium team that has yet to “hit their best” in this World Cup poses a “scary” proposition (Tues., 4 pm ET on ESPN, Univision), the former USMNT striker believes that the USA have a “great opportunity” to progress to the last eight for the first time since 2002.
The Chicago native was a pivotal figure in Bruce Arena’s side during their march to an eventual 1-0 quarterfinal defeat to Germany in Japan/Korea 12 years ago. And now McBride, who is a member of Frank Yallop‘s coaching staff with the Chicago Fire, believes Jurgen Klinsmann’s men have what it takes to overcome the highly-rated Belgians and advance to a last eight meeting with either Argentina or Switzerland.
“Belgium’s an extremely good team, they’re deep, I don’t think they’ve hit their best yet which is scary for us, but hopefully that continues through this game and if we’re at it and they’re not at it, I think we’ve got a great chance,” McBride, 42, told reporters at Toyota Park on Monday.
“I’ll be watching the lineups coming out and I think that’s going to be a big part of it. If [Vincent] Kompany is injured and unable to go and Jozy [Altidore] is able to go, I think we’ve got a great opportunity,” he added.
McBride, who hit three goals in three World Cups during a career that saw him tally 30 goals in 96 international appearances, believes the USA’s impressive performance in pushing perennial challengers Germany so close in their 1-0 Group G defeat bodes well for their chances against Marc Wilmots’ side.
“You look at Germany’s first game and they destroyed Portugal, and you know the team you just lost 1-0 to is basically a team that could win this thing,” McBride acknowledged.
“At the end there was almost a chance to tie it, there was a few chances, but all those things you take as a positive. Listen, we lost to Poland 3-1 (in USA's final group game in 2002) and we took a lot of the things we did wrong and tried to work on those. But we took the positives away more, the fact that we were through, the fact that we put ourselves in the position to get through, albeit with a lot of help. As a player at this point there’s not a lot of negativity and that’s a very good thing.”
Meanwhile Yallop, who is preparing his team for a return to MLS action with the visit of Toronto FC to Toyota Park on Wednesday, also believes this is a tie the USA can emerge from.
“I do think it’s a game the USA can win,” Yallop said. “I like the matchup, both teams are good going forward. The big thing for the US, after the game against the Germans, you can have one of those games and say ‘ok, this is what we didn’t do well at, let’s kind of go for it now.’ Get the gameplan against Belgium and let it go. There’s nothing else left after this, you’ve got to go for it. I feel good about the game, I think they’re going to do well.”
Shane Murray covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com.