Salvador, Brazil: All around this country, from bars in Porto Alegre to beaches in Recife, Brazilian fans on Saturday endured the tension, followed by the pure, unadulterated relief, that comes with watching your team take part in, and win, a penalty shootout.
It is an emotion with which most fans of the United States are not familiar. The U.S. is still a developing soccer nation in many respects, and one area in which the Americans have a distinct lack of history is the taut, anxiety-ridden shootout. (Read: US has experience, albeit negative, against Belgium)
If the U.S. and Belgium go to kicks from the mark (to use the official term) in their match here Tuesday, it will be the eighth shootout for the Americans in team history, according to U.S. Soccer. But that number requires some context: Two of those shootouts came in minor tournaments like the defunct Marlboro Cup, and none were in a World Cup. The most recent shootout was in 2005, and the U.S. has participated in only three shootouts in 19 years. (USA plan to go on offensive against Belgium, says Klinsmann)