The goal-starved United States has something special for Belgium, Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski said Monday on the eve of the Americans' knockout game in Salvador, Brazil.
Playing more aggressive "is where our mindset is right now," Wondolowski said in teleconference with Bay Area reporters. "We've felt we come up with a good game plan for each game. This game plan is a special one. It is a bit more offensive. We hope to catch them on the counterattacks."
The United States has scored four goals in three games but was shut out in a conservative attack against Germany in the Group G finale last week. It will need more offense Tuesday to stop Belgium from dictating play with some of the world's most talented attacking midfielders.
Wondolowski, who made a cameo appearance against Portugal, said the team has created a special bond to help it to face one of Europe's best upcoming teams.
But the Americans have a special weapon, so to speak. Wondo, as he is known, said character might be enough to make a difference in the round of 16 after watching surprise teams advance in Brazil.
"It hasn't necessarily been the physically strong teams, but the ones who have been mentally strong," Wondolowski said. "The ones who keep driving through the 90 minutes. Once you make it" to the knockout stages, "anything can happen, especially with this heat and humidity."
Wondolowski credited coach Jurgen Klinsmann with instilling enthusiasm and cohesion among the players.
"But if something needs to be said he'll be the first one to say it," the De La Salle High alum added. "We really feel we have something very special. Just the closeness and team-comes-first attitude that always haven't happened. It is pretty rare at the professional level. This team has put egos to the sides."
No one is suggesting it will be easy against the stubborn Red Devils, who boast 11 players from the English Premier League. Belgium might be new to the general public but Wondolowski said the American players know all about its talent.
"They've shown great," he said. "They are very dangerous team. We've put together a game plan we need to execute precisely. Otherwise it could be a long day."
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.