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USMNT 2, Belgium 4: SBI Player Grades

Staring eleven moment of silents

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CLEVELAND– When asked to list three bright spots for the U.S. Men’s National Team from Wednesday night’s 4-2 loss to Belgium, Jurgen Klinsmann gave a wry smile that acknowledged just how tough a task that was.

Klinsmann wasn’t quite able to come up with three, and that told you all you needed to know about Wednesday’s match. It was largely forgettable and for some U.S. players, a wasted opportunity to shine. Yes, Belgium came in as the favorite, and boasts one of the most talented teams in Europe, but the way the U.S. team sleepwalked through the match for long stretches made it tough to find consolation in a loss that didn’t play out as closely as the score might suggest.

Defensively, the Americans were ripped to shreds, and none of the cohesiveness and organization that the team boasted in March’s World Cup qualifiers could be found against Belgium. It wasn’t all down to the back four though. The midfield offered little defensive support, leaving gaps for Belgium to exploit, and providing a harsh reminder of just how important Michael Bradley is to the U.S. team.

Offensively, there were more of the same struggles. Yes, the U.S. scored two goals, but neither came in the run of play. It isn’t exactly embarrassing to struggle against a defense boasting the kind of talent Belgium has, but the U.S. quite simply did very little to even trouble Belgium. The wings provided little and Jozy Altidore struggled once again to find chances, lasting just 45 minutes in the process.

So what were the bright spots? There were a few. Clint Dempsey was once again a player who could find success even as his team struggled. DaMarcus Beasley turned in another solid showing at left back, while Jermaine Jones showed his usual determination and bite, even if he once again showed a penchant for poor discipline and organization in midfield.

Here is a closer look at the USMNT player grades for Wednesday night’s match:



Could have done better on first Belgium goal, but made necessary plays throughout first half.


Not perfect defensively by any means, but still another solid showing, and flashed some good attacking qualities in the second half.


Still wins most balls in the air, but in space he looked lost and insecure at times. His timing was off and he looked like a far cry from the dominant force that faced Mexico in March. Won’t be his last chance, but failed to pull away from other centerback contenders in the race for starts in central defense.


Fared only slightly better than Gonzalez. Didn’t exactly play well enough to be considered a lock starter.


Did well to get in position for the goal, but he provided little getting forward and struggled to deal with Belgium’s attackers on the flank. His worst game at right back to date.


Anyone expecting magic from the Dynamo star came away disappointed, but he did have some moments where you could see his soccer brain at work. Didn’t do enough to grab the starting left wing spot and it is unclear whether he will see another chance in the coming weeks.


If you wanted him to be a playmaker you came away disappointed, but if you focused on the defensive work he put in, you saw a reasonable performance. Not enough to be considered a starting option, but enough to keep in the conversation for minutes.


You have to take the good and the bad with Jones. The good is his relentlessness and ability to set a good tone for the U.S. The bad is his penchant for freelancing and running himself out of position, which can often leave teammates in bad spots. Until he shows more discipline, the U.S. defense will continue to struggle with him on the field.


Provided quality set-piece service, and never stopped hustling, but took an inordinate amount of uncharacteristically bad touches that led to far too many turnovers.


Once again, Altidore tried to be the hold-up striker, but only ever seemed to find Dempsey moving off of him and making himself available. Fitness was an issue, as evidenced by him having to leave the match at halftime.


Once again, Dempsey led the way. He provided consistent movement with purpose in the attack and was the only player who didn’t look out of place against the Belgians. Struggled to combine with the midfield, but not for a lack of making himself available.


A very encouraging cameo for Johnson, who just might have moved himself closer to a starting role against Jamaica in the June World Cup qualifier. He was aggressive, fast and contributed at forward as well as on the left wing.


Didn’t have as much success as Johnson at forward, and struggled to find the game. A disappointing out from a player who should be motivated to prove something on Sunday when the USMNT faces Boyd’s native Germany.


Provided some hustle, but did little to help the U.S. threaten in the attack. Looks more like a Gold Cup squad player than someone who will have a role in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.


Saw his goal overrun, and could have done better on at least one of the three goals he surrendered.


Given 21 minutes alongside Omar Gonzalez and didn’t look quite as confident as he did when the two last partnered, against Mexico in March. Provided some good passing, but might seen his defensive sharpness hurt by the recent stretch of matches he missed due to injury. That said, he should still have a chance to start on Sunday vs. Germany.


It was only a cameo, but Holden’s inclusion had considerable significance. He held his own during his nine minutes on the field, connecting on passes and looking aggressive and eager. Tough to say whether Belgium had taken their foot off the pedal by then or not, but Holden definitely looked ready for the challenge. He should see some minutes vs. Germany on Sunday.


What do you think of the grades? Any grades you think are too harsh? Any grades you consider too generous?

Share your thoughts below.



  1. Your grading for Jozy, and I know it is purely your opinion, but man…..your grade SUCKED. Don’t be one of the legions of ignorant American soccer fans who are hating on Jozy because Klinsi’s system doesn’t fit his style of play…
    Btw…haters are welcome to reply to this.

  2. I watched only the last 30 minutes or so, on Univision, the Hispanic cable station.
    The Hispanic commentators had generally scathing, and very harsh criticism of the US team as a whole.

    Amongst many things they said: They stated that they thought Klinsmann was still quite a long ways from finding his preferred ideal starting 11. Also that as “we have come to expect” the US attack was without any creativity or teeth, no really incisive player able to unlock a defense and spring openings for the forwards and attacking mids. Too much hesitation and poor touches, too many errant passes (an oft recurring theme for our boys), not to mention the atrocious defending, gaping holes in the back line, giving up three very soft goals to Belgium, who never really seemed to need get it in to 4rth or 5th gear. They said also that the result on the scoreboard put makeup on the ugly face of the US’s dismal showing, showing the US to be a truly mediocre team at best, still not able to realistically aspire to competing with the big boys. Whereas Belgium, yes, has the goods and the team work to perhaps make quite a splash in Brazil at the WC. They commented on the fact that although we are sitting in an OK position in CONCACAF qualifying, and probably will continue to eke out results in CONCACAF where the competition is not as stiff as in Europe, our favorable position has been won only through edgy, hard fought, anxiously won, meager victories, won at hard cost, with out much weight, aplomb or cohesiveness on the field, etc., etc. – they ROASTED the US effort and were clearly disappointed, stating hey had expected more from Klinsmann by now, as far as getting the team together, etc., etc., etc. – same old story.
    Can’t help but wonder what we would look like if Bruce Arena, or someone like Gus Hiddink were at the helm.
    I am suspending judgment for now, and awaiting the actual qualifiers when the rubber really hits the road – to see if this team can start to put it together and really offer something going forward.
    Prayers for the wounded and positive vibrations to those on the mend.
    Hooray for Stuart Holden – welcome back!

  3. Jones is best part of this team. He loves this country and it shows. I hope this doesn’t offend anyone but we need players who love this country. Those will do the deed.

  4. After cooling off for a day after last night’s game I think these ratings are pretty fair. Losing to Belgium isn’t anything to be ashamed of, maybe the margin is disappointing, but at least the squad knows where it needs to improve.
    Outside of Jones and Beasley I don’t think anyone really stood out. I do think Kljestan is being a bit unfairly criticized… he hadn’t been paired with Jones before and based on his quotes, he did what was asked of him for the most part. I’m not sure what everyone was expecting out of him and he may not have been great, but I don’t think he did anything to endanger earning a call-up in the near future.

    Thanks for the coverage Ives

  5. Jozy has shown he needs two things to be successful on the international stage: 1) competent service (believe the announcers said last night that Donovan assisted in 75% of his goals for the USMNT) and 2) another stretch forward to open up space (Charlie Davies role). Neither of which he has gotten under Klinsmann.


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