After finishing second in Group G, the Americans resumed work at their training base in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and began priming for Tuesday's meeting with Group H winner Belgium at Arena Fonte Nova.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has always exuded confidence, but after his squad navigated a rigorous first-round schedule, he spoke with greater forcefulness and determination during his media briefing Friday at Sao Paulo FC's training grounds.
"We have absolutely no fear at all," Klinsmann said. "We feel like we are in a position now to challenge it. We believe we have built a foundation in our team that we are able to beat them."
Help might be on the way. While the regulars spent Friday recuperating from the 1-0 loss to Germany, striker Jozy Altidore continued his recovery from a hamstring injury that has sidelined him since the first half of the opener against Ghana. Altidore has been jogging and running for three days and might be available against Belgium.
"We are very optimistic," Klinsmann said. "Every day is a big step forward. It's 11 days now, and it's looking better every day."
In Altidore's absence, Clint Dempsey served as the lone forward in the starting lineup in the past two matches. Aron Johannsson replaced Altidore when the veteran forward left the Ghana game in the first half, but Johannsson has not played since. Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski's only action so far came as a substitute at the end of the tie with Portugal.
Realistically, after missing the games and not training at full power for an extended period, Altidore is not a candidate to start against Belgium. However, if he continues making strides, he would likely be in uniform and become an option late in the game.
Meantime, midfielder Jermaine Jones fractured his nose in a second-half collision with teammate Alejandro Bedoya during the Germany game, U.S. Soccer Federation spokesman Michael Kammarman said.
Jones is the second player to suffer such an injury; Dempsey's nose was broken by a high-kicking Ghanaian on June 16. Jones' injury is a minor fracture, Kammarman said, and like Dempsey, Jones does not plan to wear a protective mask.
Sweet 16: The second round of the World Cup gets underway Saturday with host nation Brazil facing Chile and Colombia taking on Uruguay in an all-South American race to reach the quarterfinals.
Brazil has never lost to Chile on home soil and hasn't been beaten by its South American rival in 14 years.
However, Brazil's players -- and coach -- are understandably wary of a dangerous Chile side that has far less to lose than the hosts.
"It's normal to feel uncomfortable and anxious ahead of this first elimination game," Luiz Felipe Scolari said. "We are a bit more scared and nervous ... not only because this one is in Brazil. We know we can't make mistakes, we can't lose."
For Uruguay, the loss of Suarez will be damaging -- both technically and psychologically. His two goals in the 2-1 victory over England in Group D propelled Uruguay toward to the knockout stage and his presence in the squad as a proven match winner did much for its confidence.
Suarez update: The players union and football's governing body agree on one thing in the wake of the heavy ban imposed on Suarez for his third biting incident: The Uruguay and Liverpool striker needs help. In Rio de Janeiro, FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke said a third biting incident in Suarez's career was "unacceptable."
"I think he should find a way to stop doing it -- he should go through a treatment," Valcke told reporters.
The players union, FIFPro, came to the same conclusion but said the FIFA disciplinary panel's ban for Suarez of nine Uruguay matches and four months from all football "infringes his right to work" and doesn't offer him the treatment he needs.
From Italy, Suarez also received support from his latest victim, Giorgio Chiellini, who described the sanction as excessive. It was a view shared on Friday by Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez, who has quit his role in FIFA's strategic committee in protest at the length of the ban.
Suarez's grandmother also weighed in, calling FIFA's punishment "barbaric." Lila Piriz Da Rosa said her grandson has been treated "like a dog" after he was thrown out of the World Cup.
Chiellini wrote in a blog for website Sportlobster such a long ban could be "really alienating" for a player. "At the moment, my only thought is for Luis and his family, because they will face a very difficult period," Chiellini said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Jozy Altidore grabs his hamstring during the U.S.'s 2-1 victory vs. Ghana on June 16. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said Altidore's recovery is "looking better every day."
TUESDAY'S U.S. game
Round of 16: U.S. vs.
Belgium, 12:30 p.m. ESPN