SANTA CLARA -- Belgium's World Cup showing has not impressed the Earthquakes' Clarence Goodson.

He knows something about the Red Devils, having started in the Americans' previous two games against Belgium in 2011 and 2013. Belgium won 1-0 in Brussels and 4-2 in Cleveland.

"The biggest thing is not to give that team too much respect," Goodson said Monday. "They're a good team but they haven't won anything. They made it out of their group but they weren't that dynamic, they weren't that strong, they weren't that scary in that group. That was very much one of the weakest groups in the World Cup."

The United States faces Belgium on Tuesday in a second-round contest in Salvador, Brazil. Goodson, a central defender currently suffering a hamstring muscle strain, was one of the last players U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann cut last month.

"The U.S. has come through a harder group," Goodson said. "They have been tested a lot more than Belgium has. Their mentality, their focus and their attitude is what really can push them along."

However, the 11th-ranked Red Devils are so loaded with talent some analysts have described them as the tournament dark horse. They scored only four goals in three group games, but only allowed a penalty kick.

Goodson knows all about Belgium's big, physical players and promising midfielders Eden Hazard (Chelsea) and Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United).


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"The U.S. will need to defend as a team and make sure they stay in a good shape and don't allow those players to get isolated one v. one," he said. "They will send multiple numbers at the ball when those guys get on it."

The Americans also must keep possession to relieve the backline. "You can't defend a whole game," Goodson added.

He warned not to make too much of the 4-2 defeat last year in Cleveland when many players on both sides were in the lineup.

"It was a weird game, guys seemed a little lackadaisical," Goodson said of the Americans. "They were coming together just after having a little break."

The game in Brussels in September 2011 is a better barometer, according to Goodson.

"That was a little while ago but it was a good game and something we definitely could have gotten something out of playing them on their soil," he said. "That was when their young players were coming into their own before they made that big breakthrough."

Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.