The quiet days of the NFL calendar have arrived. OTAs and minicamp are in the rear-view mirror, and training camp is still 23 days away. Which means it is the perfect time to concentrate on the "other" football.
Whatever you want to call it -- soccer or football -- one thing is clear: the United States and Belgium are facing off today in the FIFA World Cup round of 16. Only one team will advance to the quarter finals to face off against whoever wins the game Argentina vs. Switzerland (EDIT: It is Argentina; they won 1-0).
In order to prepare you for today's game, here's everything you need to know about the game and the two teams participating in it:
When and where and who's the referee?
When: Today, 4:00 pm EST
Where: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador (live: ESPN 2)
Referee: Djamel Haimoudi, Algeria
FIFA Ranking: 11
World Cup appearances: 12 (best result: 4th, 1986)
Games thus far: 3 wins (2-1 vs. Algeria; 1-0 vs. Russia; 1-0 vs. South Korea)
Group stage: 1st place Group H (9 points)
Head coach: Mark Wilmots
Possible line-up (4-2-3-1): Courtois -- Alderweireld, van Buyten, Kompany, Vertonghen -- Witsel, Fellaini -- Mertens, de Bruyne, Hazard -- Lukaku
How will they win?
- Starting faster than in the previous three games.
- Not being too reliant on Hazard to be the only playmaker.
- Trying to keep the game away from Courtois' goal, and the United States in their own half.
United States of America
FIFA Ranking: 13
World Cup appearances: 10 (best result: 3rd, 1930)
Games thus far: 1 win (2-1 vs. Ghana), 1 draw (2-2 vs. Portugal), 1 loss (0-1 vs. Germany)
Group stage: 2nd place Group G (4 points)
Head coach: Jürgen Klinsmann
Possible line-up (4-2-3-1): Howard -- Johnson, Besler, Gonzalez, Beasley -- Jones, Beckerman -- Zusi, Bradley, Bedoya -- Dempsey
How will they win?
- Playing good defense against a strong Belgian offense.
- Keeping Belgium's only striker (probably Lukaku) in check, so that the midfielders have to look elsewhere.
- Trying not to waste any chances.