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Cole Pepper: U.S. Soccer's Chance To Advance Lies With Win Against Belgium

U.S. Soccer

The U.S. could be headed to the World Cup semi-finals for only the third time since 1930 if they win tomorrow. Cole Pepper has the latest in his First Coast Connect weekly sports wrap.

U.S. Advances to World Cup Knockout Round

The U.S. made the semi-finals of the first World Cup in 1930. Since then, they've only made the quarterfinals once, that was in 2002.

Tomorrow afternoon, the U.S. can once again earn a spot in the quarterfinals if they can beat Belgium.

Striker Jozy Altidore may be back in the lineup. He missed the last two matches with a hamstring injury. That would be a big lift for the U.S. In terms of the world rankings this looks like a pretty even match. Belgium is No. 11 and the U.S. is ranked 13th in the world.

Once again, there will be quite a few watch parties going on around the city, including the Armada watch party at Blackfinn at the St. John's Town Center. It's open to the public and it begins at 3 p.m. The match starts at 4. You are urged to get there early.

If the U.S. were to win, they would face the winner of Argentina and Switzerland in the quarterfinals on Saturday. Argentina is considered one of the favorites in the World Cup.

A Sporting Fourth

As this is Independence Day week, as always there are a lot of sporting events going on. Including a rare Fourth of July game at the Baseball Grounds for the Suns.

Typically, the Suns play on July 3, celebrating the late Peter Bragan Sr.'s birthday, but this year, they'll play on the holiday.

Also this weekend, NASCAR returns to Daytona for races Friday and Saturday night. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will try to pull off the double and win both the 500 and this weekend's 400 mile race.

And if you like a little less horsepower, you can run for yourself.

If you can manage the heat, the Celebration Run 5K will be going on Friday morning. You can pick up an American Flag at the starting line to run with if you want to have that patriotic feel for 3.1 miles. You can sign up online.

You can follow Melissa Ross on Twitter @MelissainJax and Cole Pepper @ColePepper.

Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.