President Barack Obama joined about 200 staffers in an Executive Office Building auditorium to watch the second half.
"I believe!" he exclaimed as he walked in at the front of the hall. "I believe!"
Belgium outshot the U.S. 38-14. The 35-year-old Howard kept the ball out with slides, with dives and with leaps. But he never felt it was his special night.
"If this continues, then we're in trouble," he recalled thinking.
With forward Jozy Altidore still not recovered from the strained hamstring that had sidelined him since the June 16 opener, Klinsmann inserted Wondolowski as a second striker in the 72nd minute. He appeared to have a chance to win it in stoppage time when Jermaine Jones flicked the ball to him at the top of the 6-yard box, but with Courtois coming out, Wondolowski put the ball over the crossbar. While the linesman put out his flag, it was unclear whether he was signaling goal kick or offside.
In the third minute of extra time, Matt Besler tried to intercept a pass to Lukaku but fell down as the Belgian striker fought free. Lukaku sped in alone, crossed, and the ball rebounded off defender Omar Gonzalez. Kevin De Bruyne controlled it, took three touches as he spun and beat Howard just over his right foot.
"I thought I could make a play on the ball. I took a shot and missed and lost my balance," Besler said.
Twelve minutes later, with the U.S. pushing for an equalizer, Bradley's shot was blocked and De Bruyne burst ahead on a counter. He fed Lukaku, who sent the ball over the left shoulder of Howard, his Everton teammate, and seemingly put the game out of reach.
But Green, among five German-Americans on the U.S. roster and a surprise pick, woke up the team and its fans with his first touch, setting off raucous chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A!"
There would be no final comeback this time, though.
Bradley said the Americans had told themselves that regardless of when their run ended, they wanted to abandon their defensive style of the past.
"We wanted to go home going for it," he said.
"And," he added with satisfaction, "we did."