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Second-half collapse dooms USMNT in loss to Belgium

Sacha Kljestan

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CLEVELAND– The scoreboard read 1-1 at halftime of Wednesday’s friendly between Belgium and the U.S. Men’s National Team, but the first 45 minutes were far from even. Belgium had the better of the play, but the Americans fought hard enough to keep things even mid-way through the match.

The second half was a much different story, and provided a harsh reminder of the gulf in class between the teams on the field Wednesday night.

Belgium scored three unanswered goals to blow open a match that was even on the scoreboard in the first half, if not in terms of quality. Christian Benteke scored a pair of second-half goals on Aston Villa teammate Brad Guzan to help complete the romp and leave the Americans stunned after allowing three goals in 15 minutes.

Clint Dempsey’s 80th-minute penalty kick made the score a bit more respectable, but offered little consolation on a night when Belgium thoroughly dominated and the U.S. defense crumbled in a 4-2 loss at FirstEnergy Stadium.

“We talked about that before the game, that we want to play simpler out of the back, not making things complicated,” Klinsmann said in his post-match press conference. “Here and there we always look for the complicated ball, instead of just carrying it through the midfield, playing to people’s feet, moving off the ball, and keep it simple.”

Belgium got out to an early lead when Miralles chipped the ball over the head of his club teammate Tim Howard in the 6th minute, taking advantage of a spilled rebound from Howard on a close range chance from Belgium forward Romelu Lukaku.

“We obviously, at this level, we need to tighten up,” Howard said. “Yes, they have firepower, but most of the teams we’re going to come up against are going to have firepower. It’s on us to put the other team on our terms defensively.”

Cameron brought the crowd of 27,720 to their feet in the 22nd minute, taking a pass across the face of goal from Dempsey and finishing past Belgium goalkeeper Simon Mignolet from inside the six yard box.

“It was good to finally get one on a positive note, (especially) with the own goal against Scotland (in 2012),” Cameron said. “That’s why I’m there on the corner kicks: to hopefully get my head on the end of it and I’m just glad I got one and hopefully there’s many more to come.”

The U.S. took a 1-1 scoreline into the half, but the introduction of Benteke in the 41st minute paid dividends in the second half. He scored his first goal with a short range finish in the 56th minute off a Brad Davis turnover, and his second came latching onto a beautiful through ball from Belgium midfielder Steven Defour in the 71st minute before chipping substitute U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan, his teammate at Aston Villa.

Fellaini added Belgium’s third goal of the evening, taking advantage of a poor clearance from a corner kick by Klinsmann’s squad, heading in at the far post from a cross by teammate Kevin De Bruyne.

“Every mistake that the U.S. made, we scored a goal,” De Bruyne said. “I think in football it’s very important when you create chances you score them. I think the U.S. didn’t create chances, and that’s a strong point of our Belgium team.”

Dempsey added a consolation goal in the 80th minute, scoring from the penalty spot after Belgium defender Toby Alderweireld handled the ball in the area. A minute later, Stuart Holden made his long awaited return to the national team, entering the field for Sacha Kljestan.

The three second half goals conceded by the U.S. all occurred from numerous defensive miscues in their own defensive third, putting themselves under unnecessary pressure and eventually, failing. Inexperienced defenders Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler made mistakes, but were thrown into the gauntlet with the hopes that they’d be ready for the difficult three game World Cup qualifying stretch.

“This is why we want to play teams like Belgium and like Germany, because there is so much that you can read from those games, so much that you can see,” Klinsmann said. “That’s what players like Gonzalez, Besler, and other young players coming through, see top class players against them, proven players with qualities and that’s why they play for big clubs.

Howard, though he played just 45 minutes, understood the reasoning for playing an up and coming world power like Belgium.

“It’s to keep challenging ourselves and I think when you challenge yourself at this level you run the risk of getting taken to the woodshed a few times, Howard said. “I think it’s better than playing a team that we can dominate and is kind of a cakewalk for us. I think these games are better, and will serve us better in the long run, but time will tell.”

Klinsmann summed up the spirit of the friendly, focusing on the long-term gains from the performances as opposed to sticking with the short-term pains from losing.

“Obviously we want to win them, but I’d rather play Belgium 10 more times then El Salvador the 100th time, because that’s where you learn,” Klinsmann said.


Prior to the start of the match, DaMarcus Beasley was honored with his mother and father on the field for winning his 100th cap. It was one of the few bright spots for the U.S. in the match.

The USMNT will travel to Washington D.C. on Thursday ahead of Sunday’s friendly vs. Germany at RFK Stadium.

Wednesday’s 4-2 loss marked the second time the USMNT conceded four goals under Klinsmann. The other time was the team’s 4-1 loss to Brazil on May 30th, 2012 at FedEx Field.

Geoff Cameron’s goal was the first of his U.S. Men’s National Team career.


What did you think of the match?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. These friendlies against strong Euro teams are great but, like Sir Ian mentioned during the game, I am not so sure how great they will be for the psyche of the players if we get worked in the next game like we did in this game. Not to mention, the physical aspect of playing 5 games in a short time frame after many players just finished their seasons.

  2. Why doesn’t Klinsmann like to have his team play with any sort of width? I have to assume that is the case since he has guys like Davis and Zusi as outside mids and Cameron as a right back. What is his system? At the point that you have to play someone like Davis, why not put Clint in that spot and see if Jozy and Herc can do some things together up top. Jozy always seemed to play better with another forward lined up with him, and Clint has always been better running from midfield. Jozy is being wasted and seems to get subbed out earlier than any other player which makes me think Klinsmann blames him for the team’s inability to create scoring chances. And what is his fascination with Zusi? He creates nothing, can’t get to the endline regularly and I can’t name one thing that guy does well. Seems like we’ll never see creative types like Adu and Feilhaber get a real chance on this team. The scoring chances from the run of play will continue to be non-existant when there are people on the field incapable of creating them on a regular basis.

    • He clearly has no system. He just throws players out onto the pitch and says “go express yourselves”. How do we know this? Because we were told it, right to our faces.

      His managerial style destroys programs. He could get away with it in Germany because they had players who could transpose an organized, tactical game into their natural style. It could work with the US as well if we selected the right players who had the proper skillsets to play the positions they line up in, but we have a coach who likes to tinker at the most inopportune times. There’s no goal-direction to our play, we just knock it around and wait for someone to run into space where we either try the 50/50 ball or kick back and try over the top. There’s no urgency, no incisiveness.

  3. Beasley should play wing. Landon on other side. Bradley and jones in mid. Never see Evans or Sacha or Goodson again. Cherundolo and Jonson at lb/RB respectively. Omar, Cameron, Besler in middle. Freddy Adu can be worked into roster and provide much needed/only creativity and technical ability in roster. Forward position is equally mediocre and will require ample opportunities created from midfield. Biggest faults since klinsmann is failure to blend old players with new, American soccer players are not inherently professional/developed soccer players, especially in mls. Keeping unity in a team of this nature is critical in building success.

      • AGREE. I know everyone thinks why ADU he can’t even play in the MLS, I look at what the US is missing, a offensive minded player, who is confident on the ball and pushes forward. Jones, Edu, Beckerman, Bradley are not offensive minded (Zusi maybe, but not at Outside mid).

  4. 4 worst players tonight: Omar, Goodson, Beasley and Cameron. All played a part in all of the goals.

    And, dang………Jermaine Jones is a beast!!!!! We don’t need Bradley, put donovan in at center mid and let the good times roll.

  5. Amazed at so many extreme reactions. Many people have been screaming for JK to not play 3 defensive midfielders, and to try someone more creative like Klejstan. JK does that (with bad results) and everyone screams about it. Then with our backline it was Bocanegra is too old give Gonzalez a chance. Gonzalez has one good game he is anointed the savior, but then has a crap game today. Why isn’t Bocanegra playing center back? Or the thought that we should be playing some other players that are better. Who are these magically gifted players that are not playing? Donovan? Maybe he could have helped some, but in watching him with the Galaxy he has been soso. Would the result have been any different? I doubt it. Bradley and Johnson were out so that is a big factor. Cherundolo an Chandler are out due to injury/Recovery. What can you do about that? Our CB pairing is a work in progress that is the reality.

  6. Best WC lineup? Maybe landon up top? instead of replacing a deserving zusi on wing

  7. —————-Boyd——Gomez—————–


  8. 4-2-3-1


    Job done. Can I be US head coach now

  9. —————-Boyd——Gomez—————–

    I personally think playing Beasley at RB makes no sense, so I think against Germany you, for one, don’t play Davis. We also don’t need to see Cameron at RB again. So that leaves someone like Johnson to fill in at RB (because if I see Evans at RB I’m going to flip out) and Castillo at LB with Beasley at LM/LW.

    Jones played pretty well tonight, give him a rest even though it’s Germany. Let Bradley get a run out there instead. Even though I personally would like to see Jozy start again, I think Boyd and Gomez are locks to start against Germany. The Corona one is a bit of a stretch but it sounds like JK is seriously considering him in that position. So lets give it a shot and give Zusi a break.

    and lastly, i think we should give Cameron a run at CB this game (but sub early) and of course Besler given Omar’s struggles tonight.

  10. you make that many simple mistakes against a team like Belgium, you get burned. it’s that simple.

    1st goal, omar, cameron, and goodson all messed up. goodson was just walking around instead of sprinting to the goal line in case Omar didn’t get to it again (which he didn’t) and in case Howard got beat (which he did on the 2nd shot). and no, not blaming Howard.

    2nd goal, Davis with a bad turnover (surprise…) and then Omar with just an awful touch which goes right to Belgium to cross and tap in. amateur hour.

    3rd goal, Boyd whiffs on the final clearance from a corner, simple cross and since Zusi and Omar were expecting a clearance, they both get beat easily.

    4th goal, Jones allows too much space, yes, but then if you look at the defense at the moment of the pa$$, the shape is totally out of whack. Belgium notice it and notice Cameron playing deeper then the rest of the line, they pa$$ as Beasley moves forward, break away and onside because of Cameron.

    and lets not even talk about some of the pa$$ing in the first half that went nowhere. jeez.

    • Good assessment of the errors leading to the goals.One advantage of playing good teams is that they punish errors and make obvious those things that must get better. I do not know the answers to this, but what other mistakes did the US commit that Belgium failed to punish?

  11. we arent winning the world cup in 2014 thats obvious, but we will make it. y not give these young dudes a chance, the goalies, dempsey, bradley, altidore and jones are fine but everyone else is just soo mediocre to bad. the wing play is just bad… its really bad. brad davis? please move on.

  12. you make that many simple mistakes against a team like Belgium, you get burned. it’s that simple.

    1st goal, omar, cameron, and goodson all messed up. goodson was just walking around instead of running his a$$ to the goal line in case Omar didn’t get to it again (which he didn’t) and in case Howard got beat (which he did on the 2nd shot). and no, not blaming Howard.

    2nd goal, Davis with a bad turnover (surprise…) and then Omar with just an awful touch which goes right to Belgium to cross and tap in. amateur hour.

    3rd goal, Boyd whiffs on the final clearance from a corner, simple cross and since Zusi and Omar were expecting a clearance, they both get beat easily.

    4th goal, Jones allows too much space, yes, but then if you look at the defense at the moment of the pass, the shape is totally out of whack. Belgium notice it and notice Cameron playing deeper then the rest of the line, they pass as Beasley moves forward, break away and onside because of Cameron.

    and lets not even talk about some of the passing in the first half that went nowhere. jeez.

    • Nice description of the errors leading to the goals.One advantage of playing good teams is that they punish errors and make obvious those things that must get better. I do not know the answers to this, but what other mistakes did the US commit that Belgium failed to punish?

  13. everyone ripping the backline and CBs…I don’t get it

    the midfield provided no cover and got sliced and diced repeatedly, and also had innumerable turnovers that led to quick strike counters. If the midfield doesn’t do better in covering for the backline things will get worse. MB has become the irreplaceable player on the team imo

  14. How many minutes, hours, and games do we have to bestow on Jozy Altidore for people to realize that he just doesn’t have his heart into this team?

    He has been given more opportunities than any other striker in the modern era and still has not proven himself as a reliable goal scorer for the USMNT.

    It is well past time for other players to get a chance. Herculez Gomez, Eddie Johnson and Terrence Boyd need to get more chances to start a game and get real minutes.

    • He may just not be good enough. Might not have anything to do with heart. And as I’ve mentioned a few other times, don’t think aging Gomez, and a speedy but boneheaded EJ, or a Boyd who’s clearly not ready (who in 30 minutes was invisible, less impact than Jozy even) are going to be much if any better than Jozy’s poor play. We’re thin at forward. With Jozy you at least get a giant body to slam into defenders that you don’t get with the other guys. At this point it might be best to just use him as a Ching-type and just look to tire defenders with him.

      • the giant body thing from Jozy is more effective when playong direct balls to him because he gets fouled…this US team never looks for him like that. The guy is a tank, why not use him like one when it’s proved effective in the past?

  15. Omar is just waaaaay too slow for top intl
    Teams. Chicharito and Guardado are built like girls that’s why he performed well against Mex

    • To me the problem is not that Omar Gonzalez is to slow, but that he is paired with a partner in Goodson who is pretty much the same type player — who is also too slow. They are both stopper types and one of the two should be paired with Besler. We saw Matt Belser paired brilliantly with Gonzalez against Mexico. Given the importance of the unspoken communication between centerbacks, it is baffling that Kilnsman is not working these Gonzalez/Besler to develop more chemistry.

      • insight! thank you Bumby. It’s clear that Gonzo is better paired with a player like Besler. Hopefully Klinnsman knows that now too

      • Sorry but it was besler that locked down chicarito in that game. Omar played well cleaning up the box but besler was glued to Hernandez all night.

      • the game the whole team was in front of the goal? what is going to happen now that Barrera, Dos Santos and Guardado are all in top form? do you think that the team will be safe enough to afford to only get 1 point from Mexico in Columbus?
        People need to stop believing that parking the bus is good defending.

      • who was talking about bus parking or only accepting a point from Columbus??? nice subject change.

        fact remains about the Azteca game…this seems to bother you

  16. Things that I learned from this game:
    1) Omar Gonzalez-while playing great in azteca-will still make at least one very costly mistake every game.
    2) Clarence Goodson-played well against Costa Rica- but still isn’t ready to be a full time starter for the usmnt.
    3) Geoff Cameron needs to be a center back.
    4) matt besler should have been in that game from the beginning.
    5) Sacha kljestan shouldn’t start with the first team-serviceable sub though.

    This is what I am really hoping for against Germany:
    E. Johnson-Dempsey-zusi
    Beasley-besler-Cameron-F. Johnson

    • It seems to me that Besler needs to be the given starter in the middle and then figure who to pair best with him: Goodson, Gonzalez, or Cameron.

      • I agree 100%, I think that partner will be Cameron though. Everybody has been waiting for Gonzalez to reach his potential but he is obviously still growing.

        Besler locked down chicarito and would had done the same to lukaku and benteke had he started this game. I don’t think we have a better central defender in the pool right now than besler.

  17. cameron was not very good…
    why was goodson playing today….he was awful!
    sasha is not allowed to complain because he didn’t even put in a decent performance to warrant a discussion anymore
    jozy, i think he is completely on a different page then the rest of the team….
    gonzo was used to playing against mlsers and it showed…he hasn’t understood that friendly doesn’t mean no concentration….but i do think he is still the future…..
    can we get a real left back and right back….i like beasley but him playing left back takes away from what he could offer us on the wing….we still have no good wing players….
    donovan is home smiling a bit…..

    very frustrated now…

  18. davis was alright nice to see some service out the left for once
    why was Dempsey so off?
    we need a true rightback cameron looks useless at that position
    i stopped watching after the 3rd goal so i cant really speak on the reast of the game

    • yes, I actually thought Davis had a fairly good showing, while Zusi didn’t look so great. I’d be interested to see their passing stats.

  19. Altidore better have had an injury he was getting treatment on. That’s all.

    Oh one more thing. Thank god Stu Holden is back!!!!!

  20. Holden played better than Klejstan
    Besler played better than Goodson
    EJ played better than Davis
    Evans played better than Zusi
    When you have no wingers it’s hard to create any offense
    Zusi was so bad he can forget about a nice contract in Europe when his contract in MLS is up at the end of this year It was a game for him to show the scouts what he has and he showed a lack of foot speed, to slow in reading the game, and surprisingly a really bad technical game tonight except for that one move near the end of the first half where he saved the ball from going out while at the same time beating his defender. Otherwise he was an embarrassment.

    • Yep. I could hear the sound of paper being ripped up at the end of the game. I guess that was Zusi’s future contract. Please kojo…
      Zusi didn’t play as well as he has in previous games so I guess he totally sucks and will never get an opportunity to go to abroad??!!? Pah-lease guy….

      • No he’s not. Donovan is not better the Zusi at this time. There’s no way that you can prove that. Do you watch MLS, the league that both of those players play in?

        If LD was in camp then I have no doubt that he would’ve started over Davis. He was not invited to camp, for whatever reasons. Get over it already. The USA was not going to beat this Belgium team. It wasn’t going to happen, even with Neymar on our side. It is a very special Belgium team.

      • Bean you are taking crazy pills. I have watched MLS and that being said, Zusi is playing very well, yet he is not an outside mid. Donovan is an outside mid, and what makes you believe his play has diminished? If i’m not mistaken, he led them to the MLS Cup championship last season? Donovan has experience, PACE, and just as good technical ability as Zusi.

      • That was last season. I happened to be at the finals. I pay close attention to where the top players are in form. LD has not been as good as Zusi this season. I think that you are getting form and fitness confused with last years form and fitness. That’s not to say that LD won’t get back into form. I’m talking about today.

  21. They got to have a better plan heading up against Germany. I don’t care if its the bunker style we use in Azteca or Klinsmann somehow impressing upon them the in and outs of futbol, but we can’t have the same number of lapses where guys end up pointing at places in the ground asking them why they didn’t go there or do that.

    I think we all know we’re a bit rudderless without MB, but, in his absence, somebody’s gotta step up in both the midfield and backline and say here’s whats happening.

  22. And one more thing… next game Jozy better place his hand over his heart during the anthem…. The other 10 guys did… show some respect

    • Noticed that too. Huge USMNT fan and despite how badly we were outplayed my biggest team concern right now is what’s going on with Jozy. Is he sick? Is he hurt? Why did he seem so out of it today (before and during the game). And why was he not on the bench with the rest of the players after being substituted at half time. SBI – tell us something!

      • I really don’t have an emotion attachment to debate this subject but there are players that were also born outside of the US, that are also Americans, who proudly put their hands over their heart.

        It’s a conscious choice on Jozy’s part a lot of people have an issue with.

      • he is still Haitian, if you want patriotism better have a team of only American born and raised players.

      • He is not from Haiti — was not born in Haiti, either,

        He was born in NJ — raised in Florida.

        His parents are Haitian. And, I have seen him cover his heart.

      • “And, I have seen him cover his heart.”

        When did he stop this? I haven’t heard this brought up for awhile but I don’t recall the answer.

      • Again, I’m doing my best to avoid being pulled into a topic I didn’t bring up and not trying to debate.

        He’s Haitian-American. There is a distinction.

        I’m not going to describe what a true “patriot” is because it’s a ridiculous conversation to say only American born and raised players feel the passion and pride of calling themselves American.

        That’s an incredibly out of touch (and out of reality) statement…that even current players that don’t fit that criteria on this very roster, prove wrong.

    • Really? That’s what you are complaining about? Who cares if he puts his hand over his heart? I think we should care more about him putting the ball in the back of the net.

    • Hand over heart is for the Pledge of Allegiance. The only point of etiquette for the National Anthem is to stand and remove your hat if you are wearing one.

  23. 1. Jozy may have more confidence but the service question is minor to me when the guy is consistently THE laziest forward to watch play…I’m betting his absence during the 2nd half is gonna be an issue were talking about tomorrow
    2. Jermaine had a very solid game and continues to show heart and 90 minutes of effort…I could care less about the yellow
    3. I hope Fabian and MB get acclimated quickly… our midfield needs it

    We can recover from this

  24. Klestjan did poorly with the opportunity he got tonight. Woulf rather have a rusty Stu between the two of them. Beas shuld sart at left back with Fabian at left mid–its the one reasonable shakeup that mighr lead to a modicum of offense. I prefer Besler more over the other three centerack options. We will lose badly versus German b team unless we can possess the ball a little timy bit. Sigh…

    • From Tim Howard:

      On the game being a showcase game and who stood out:
      “I thought Sacha [Kljestan] played excellent. For me Sacha was fantastic. He was honest, he was hard working, and he had some good touches. I think his passing was really good, and he has proven over the last three years, being in Belgium, that he has really turned his game up. It’s exciting for us, and he is kind of one of the old guard who knows what this process is about.” –

      See more at:

      • “beachbum says:

        what’s your take on Sacha’s game GW?”

        I agree with Tim Howard’s assessment of Sacha in this game.

        Sacha’s role, as best as I can tell, is exactly what it should be, i.e a backup player with valuable experience in a variety of roles, primarily a back up to Mikey should he ever get hurt. And MB90 will get hurt or get into card difficulty at some point.

        It’s possible if Sacha has another game or two in that role he might do even better. However, JK has trouble getting the starters enough playing time together to gel let alone giving their backups time to figure out their roles.

        SBI posters don’t give enough credit to the uniquely screwed up challenges that face a national team manager like JK in getting together a representative team.

        Everyone whines about players playing out of position but even if they are playing the same nominal position as they do for their club, many of them are being asked to do things differently anyway because the USMNT is a different team from their club. So most of these players will be faced with “out of position” syndrome.

        If they can’t adapt as the majority of internationals do, then they have no place as internationals.

        Belgium, a team with the potential to make a lot of serious noise in the World Cup, came here with their A team and played like they wanted to earn some respect. They put Benteke in while Lukaku and Fellaini were still on the field. Talk about beast mode. Not all friendly opponents take the game as seriously as that.

        They were, with Italy, the best team JK’s guys have faced. It should have been 5 or 6 to 1 not 4-2

        Given that, the US and Sacha did well.

        But then I like to think my expectations are towards the end of the scale away from delusional.

        Sacha is somewhat limited and I would prefer Benny in the role but Benny is “mercurial” and who knows if he will ever get it together enough to get with JK’s program,which Sacha obviously has.

        I see people calling for Holden and a “Bolton , 2011, pre- March “ Stu would be a good Mikey backup but based on what I saw last night, Stu has some serious work to do yet. Of course, it is hard to take much from ten minutes at the end of a blowout. Coming out of that unhurt was achievement enough for now.

  25. My issue with this game and many before is that JK keeps bringing in players who are either injured (Edu & Shea) are not available (F. Johnson, D. Williams, Castillo, Corona) and does not bring in others to potentially replace them. On top of that he has players who are not worth a damn at the international level….Brad Evans & Brad Davis. He tried to bring 1 replacement player (Ashe) and when he bowed out didn’t bother to replace him in the roster.
    IMHO….Lichaj and Bedoya should have been called in at the very least to provide cover for the missing/injured players for tonight’s game. And after the showing tonight if I were on JK’s staff I’d send a number of these crap @$$ players home to their MLS teams before we waste any more time and effort with them (Davis & Evens in particular)

    • I thought that Davis brought a bit of composure to the game.His service was very good, but the striker was not doing his job.

      • His service deserved at least another goal and he gelled with DMB pretty well. Problem was he really didn’t work with the rest of the midfield all that well.

      • He didn’t gel with Sascha, I agree. He spent long periods wide open on the left while the ball was ping-ponging around on the right touchline. I wish that they were confident enough to switch the ball quickly and let DMB and Davis overlap.

      • They gotta have another conduit in the central midfield than can just act as a distributor long enough for the rest of the team to move into position. Hopefully Stu can do it but I really wish we’d figured out this problem before now.

      • Shhh.

        Don’t provide facts. Uninformed piling on JK is what all the cool kids are doing. As you highlighted, Ives clarified this on multiple occasions.

        Questioning who he called in (i.e. Kljestan/Evans/etc) is reasonable but the idea that we didn’t have the bodies for coverage is uninformed.

      • Tim Howard on Sacha,

        On the game being a showcase game and who stood out:
        “I thought Sacha [Kljestan] played excellent. For me Sacha was fantastic. He was honest, he was hard working, and he had some good touches. I think his passing was really good, and he has proven over the last three years, being in Belgium, that he has really turned his game up. It’s exciting for us, and he is kind of one of the old guard who knows what this process is about.” –

        See more at:

      • What did you expect Howard to say about Kljestan (or any of his teammates)?

        I think it’s great Howard is praising Kljestan. I also think it’ll be telling that Kljestan will never start another game when Jones and Bradley are both available.

        Hell, in fact, I don’t believe Kljestan would have started if Edu was available…and that’s saying something.

        Summary: Howard’s praise doesn’t replace reality. Reality is Kljestan failed to prove he’s worthy of anything other than being an option deep in the bench.

      • You’re making too much of this.

        Sacha started because Mikey was unavailable. Given the circumstances, he performed as Howard suggested he did. In my view the only other suitable backups for what Bob’s boy can do are Jones and the Exile from Main Street. I’d like to see Benny do it but chances are the Prince of Darkness will be back in the fold before Mrs. Fielhaber’s boy is. Stu would also be one but he has work yet to do.

        And based on is performance I’d say Sacha did enough to stick around and maybe get another shot when Mikey get hurts or into card trouble.

        By the way, I’ve read enough of Howard in interviews to know that he will certainly stand by his teammates but if you are suggesting he is lying that seems unlikely. If Sacha truly was human excrement Howard is a sharp enough character to know you can’t lie about that. Timmy is not stupid.

        I would submit that your opinion is different from his not because he is an insincere brown noser but most likely because your perception of reality differs from Howard’s.

        He’s was on the field and you were not.
        He has to live with the guy and you don’t and so on.

        Different strokes and all that.

    • not having F. Johnson, D. Williams, Castillo, and Corona for this game is perfectly acceptable. this callup is for the qualifiers. just because they can’t play the first friendly does not mean they shouldn’t be called up.

      the rest i agree with. but add Williams to your injured list.

  26. Dear jlm, Darwin, John, Good Jeremy & the rest of the Sacha Kljestan Choir:


    Kljestan may be a great guy. Maybe hes added some things to his game. However, he’s still largely invisible, provides no impact and was given 80 minutes in his preferred position.

    Quack, quack. A duck is a duck. Please avoid jumping off the bandwagon while its moving and allow it to come to a complete stop before we proceed to our next stop: reality.

    • Devils Advocate – Klesjtan had 99 touches, second most (behind Jones).

      Sacha completed 57/66 total passes and his heat map is quite impressive compared to most other players (Jones 70/79 passes for comparison basis).

      So to classify him “largely invisible” or “provides no impact” is an overstatement.

      My Opinion – He’s a defensive midfielder, with solid, if unspectacular ability to circulate the possession. Contributes defensively and works hard. He lacks ability when it comes to the final incisive pass. He belongs third on the depth chart (behind MB and Jones) until, knock on wood, a certain blond tipped CM rounds back to form.

      • Tonight Sacha played what used to be called the timekeeper role.

        Take the ball off the defense, play it forward where it will do the most harm. If nothing is available then reset, circulate the ball around until something is. Try to dictate the tempo by slowing things down or speeding it up depending on what is going on. That appears to be Mikey’s role and it used to be Reyna’s role.

        Given that the US was mostly trying to maintain their shape, a smart thing given how deadly Belgium are, and that there were very few penetrating runs being made by the deadly US forwards, Sacha spent most of his time circulating the ball.
        Sacha is not taking MB90’s place off this performance but he probably did not play himself off of the roster either.

        That’s because someone has to back up Mikey and other than Jones the only other player who can do that role as well is the currently exiled Cambodian Beach Kid.

      • he’s a regista for sure. i agree, i think Kljestan just played himself onto the Gold Cup team instead of having serious minutes in the WCQs. but he is certainly not off the USMNT for good.

      • i.e. Was not effective and played some pretty meaningless one/two’s when he wasn’t getting in passing lanes and hit with the ball or sending through passes out of bounds.

        Sacha is not a defensive midfielder. That’s code for, “he added nothing to the attack”, when that is precisely what we need (and likely his true responsibility on the pitch)…a competent midfielder capable of doing so.

        Back to the bench, Kljestan. Next man up.

      • I thought Stu had more insightful passes in 10 min than Kljestan had in his 80 min. We lack players that have the speed, ability and confidence to make difficult accurate passes. With LD out Stu is the closest player we have that can put a pass right on a teammate’s foot. Davis and Zusi can hit a nice pass, but most of the time they are too slow to get the pass off…they get closed down easily.

  27. Add the stability of MB to the midfield and the game would have been a lot closer. Belgium was a really good team.. Not panicing too much off that..

    Hopefully we gave some of the scrubs time and show up better vs germany and the qualifiers

    Im just concerned about gonzo, im sure he will rebound but inconsistancy, and dangerous brain farts, at this level is a serious problem

    • That is a rational look at things: props to you. I disagree whether it is time to panic because I think something is broken in this team and I think that the coach is at least partly to blame.

      That said, if MB is in the lineup and we are playing harder, grittier in a game that counts….we make that game a bit harder on the Belgians.

  28. Geoff Cameron is no right back. Goodson is no better than a bench CB (3rd CB on a 23 man squad) or someone who can play against CONCACAF minnows.

    Demarcus Beasley is no left back either. He did play very well, but his body is not made to play there outside of an emergency. He went down a couple times this game and four or five times against Mexico. Start him on the left wing.

    When Johnson and Castillo come back they need to play at fullback the rest of the summer. Chandler and Cherundolo can figure in during the fall WCQ, when they’re healthy, while Lichaj can wonder why Klinnsmann refuses to call him up.

  29. My thoughts

    – I think Kljestan put in a serviceable performance. Not great and clearly not on the same level as MB, but should be ahead of edu, beckerman, and williams.

    – Jones was a BEAST tonight, he was absolutely everywhere. His balls over the top to Beasley were just class. And this is coming from someone that is usually pretty critical of him.

    – Zusi on the other hand, I think showed why we should give someone else a look on the right. Running a lot does not make you a good soccer player. His first touch, passing, and crossing are very average and I don’t think he does enough to warrant his inclusion.

    – I’m very disappointing with Jozy’s performance tonight. I usually defend him, but he had some descent service tonight and was wasteful. I think of all the forwards EJ looked the most likely to make something happen and he should be given the start against Germany.

  30. Though there was some movement in the midfield, there were few penetrating passes and little vision from individual players. Like they are all just passing it around waiting for someone else to make something happen. But there isn’t a someone else. Sometimes it’s Bradley, but he-who-must-not-be-named must get back into the squad somehow…I’m seriously worried Klinsmann is just going to leave him out in the future due to stubbornness or to spite the constant media on the subject.

    [note, if this ends up appearing twice, it’s because of the silly moderation…]

  31. I think one of the most under rated players on the team is J. Jones. What the commentators said is spot on, not only what he does with the ball but what he does without the ball is class, somethig we need more of on the team. Take away the silly fouls here and there and he is one of if not the most complete player on the team. I’m glad Guzan is now the starter at Villa. He is undoubtedly stepping in for Howard as the starter after the World Cup next year. Also, glad we’ll have Bradley back for the next match. Now if we could get Juergen to stop playing people out of position and get a set back line to get cohesion and understanding with one another.

  32. Jozy – what the hell. I am so very curious on what his deal was. Heard he wasn’t in the bench at the half? Guy looked awful.

    Tonight, I would say our midfield played well, we just had no bite up front. Until EJ went out wide.

    Beasley ended up being our most dangerous player from LB! What is the general sense of the Beas at LB?

    I am trying to make my mind. I think I really like him there. I know people want to see him at his natural position but I really liked the runs he made from the back. I would love to see him and Donovan on the same side. How awesome would that be?!

    I was holding my breathe with Holden in there. Looked good with the few touches.

    I am convinced that Besler is a starter. Gonzalez did make that awful play but I do not think Goodson should start nor do I think Cameron should be playing RB. RB suddenly became our new hole.

      • Did anyone notice before the goal scoring corner that jozy took off his shirt? I thought he was so frustrated that he was going to walk off the field and honestly I don’t blame him. Yeah he had one cleat cut change to shoot but got stuffed by a world class defender. And n a team as bad as our where your not going to get very many opportunities he had to claw a scratch to getting the shot off. Face the facts people we have the wrong players, we player them in the formation and positions, and quite possibly the wrong coach. I used to scream at bob for calling up subpar mls talent. I hoped Klinsmann would pit a stop too it but I guess is was wrong. I partly blame the fans, yes the fans and used for obviously pressuring him to pick these player. THEY ARE NOT READY, THEY ARENT GOOD ENOUGH. NOT A EURO SNOB JUST THE FACTS. it’s like Spain using youth players on there basketball team who aren’t ready or on the level of USA player because they have too. But then go and get steamrolled by the dream team. That’s insanity!

      • If you think I’m yelling or better yet if you think you hear me yelling. I think its time for me to call the cops lol.

        Caps don’t equate to yelling in traditional text. Its use to draw attention and influence to a particular subject and or sentence.

        Also I don’t know if to laugh at the irony of your sentence or cry that you were possibly being serious

      • I don’t think you understand the meaning of the word “irony.”

        I also don’t think you understand “sarcasm” or “satire.”

        Also, caps do equate to “yelling” — always have.

      • Maybe if you were born in 1992 then sure that’s exactly what caps means. Those exclamation points are a thing of the past and take that emphasis guy with you lol. Kids

      • I think Jozy was just dumping the compression shirt underneath, probably just too hot. I’ve done that.

        I don’t think his service was anywhere near as good as some people are implying, but it was better than normal.

      • The only time he had touches is when he comes back pretty deep for it or is all the way out on the left wing for some reason.

      • How is Jozy not being on the bench in the second half the “story of the game”?? Really?

        I love how people on here always strive for the drama. For example, remember when everyone freaked out that DOLO wasn’t on the roster and then blasting JK for not including him?? Well, what happened?!?! Dolo asked not to be included to recover for a full summer.

        Don’t strive for the drama and assume Jozy wasn’t there for reason A or B. We’ll soon find out why he wasn’t there!

      • Not necessarily drama but it could be. More importantly an injury to Altidore that caused him to not even stay on the bench would be ‘the story of the game’ if he can’t make the quals. So yeah, maybe it was a bit of exaggeration but I think it matters, yes?

    • Agree on Jozy. I like the guy but he was terrible today, although better than Boyd who didn’t have a chance to screw up anything because he ran around like a chicken with his head cut off unable to get involved in anything.

      Beas was great. EJ’s speed stretched the D as usual, but he’s a bonehead and kills plays by not having the technique or intelligence to pick guys out with his crosses. EJ still the same player as always (some say he’s improved from when he was universally vilified as terrible but I just think he was never really that bad).

      I like Cameron/Besler at CB. Maybe Chandler at RB for the future?

      • I am with you.

        Jozy just looked unhappy to be there. Even on the Cameron goal, just puts his head down, and is not happy his team just tied it up.

        Well, onto to Sunday. Hopefully a few more days together will tighten the team up.

      • Or, maybe a CB who is proven and a RB who is proven? Hint, hint — they weren’t with the USA today. Maybe a RW who wasn’t there, too.

      • But when jozy has the ball he is expecting his teammates to make certain runs that they don’t make…he has a much better understanding of the kind of run that should be made based on his position….no one else knows the proper run to make….is that really jozy’s fault?

        also the midfield…completely ineffective….evans and zusi on the wings?? not good…sasha in CM, awful…he was the key…if he possess the ball and doesn’t turn it over, then belgium’s defense would’ve had to work a bit….

        i’m very frustrated after watching this game tonite….while i felt we needed a change and letting bradley go was ok, i never thought klinsi was the right guy to hire….ugh!

      • Jozy had one decent ball fed to him and he was being covered by 2 players at the time. Sure a perfect touch might have set it up for a shot, but look at it again, that would have been an incredible play if he had been able to score. What other chances did he get from good service? A cross that failed to reach him, balls he had to retreat out to 30 yards to get, those are not service. Sometimes I think people here listen to Alexi and actually believe him. Generally when Lalas speaks, it is to say something incendiary, wrong, or simply silly.

    • Why would there be a hole at RB? Cameron is one of the better American players. He may not like playing RB, but he had a boatload of tackles in the EPL this season. He got a goal, and he got forward alright against some of the best players in the world tonight.

      • True, he is a good player, evidence is him playing in the EPL. I agree. Is our best option in the pinch we are in at the moment. The pinch of not having a quality RB in camp- at the moment – the hole.

        I believe he is a CB and should be competing for a starting spot there. He has been exposed many times at the RB spot – during the qualifiers and tonight.

    • I thought Bease was really, really good. Smart positioning, smart runs. All of a sudden we’re overloaded at left back…

      Defensively, I thought Cameron was mostly fine. I think CB is his better position, but I have no problem with playing him at RB. Yeah, he doesn’t give you a whole lot going forward, but if we had a good right mid, this wouldn’t seem like such a problem.

  33. Too error prone in defense and too much lackadaisical movement in the midfield. The problem is that this has been a bit of a hallmark of Klinsmann’s teams (with the possible exception of against Scotland) highlighted by the BARELY MOVING experience in Honduras. Give Bob Bradley’s teams this: they ran hard in the midfield and they booted the damn ball out when they had the chance (fond memories of the Confed cup right now).

      • Yeah they did. They oftentimes got overwhelmed, gave up too many early goals and Bradley oftentimes played people who had no reason to be getting consistent time (Bornstein for example). But, if they had the ball, he embraced a very no nonsense style of play. The problem was the opponent came right back.

    • Though there was some movement in the midfield, there were few penetrating passes and little vision overall. Like they are all just passing it around waiting for someone else to make something happen. But there isn’t a someone else. Sometimes it’s Bradley, but he-who-must-not-be-named must get back into the squad somehow…I’m seriously worried Klinsmann is just going to leave him out in the future due to stubbornness or to spite the constant media on the subject.

      • Or because he thinks that the only way for a new person to step up is if there’s room to step into. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying there is a logic to the thought process.

      • PD,

        Probably the most insightful comment on the He Who Shall Not Be Named situation.

        JK is force feeding his regulars, making them learn to live without the Boy Who Lived. If they figure it out then JK can proceed without the Galaxian.

        If they don’t then JK has a hungry , in form hopefully motivated offensive threat just raring to go. And that guy will not have had to deal with the wear and tear of the summer qualifiers.

        Do you suppose a rested and ready Dolo and Prince of Darkness would be a great shot in the arm in the fall?

      • How rested is Donovan going to be in the fall after a summer of MLS? If these 3 games go badly, this fall might not even matter.

      • We’re not talented enough to subtract LD. If JK is trying to experiment, he has the Gold Cup, but we have 3 important qualifiers without a relatively in-form LD. What a waste. This is not Germany or Spain where there’s a plethora of options at every position.

    • Bradley’s teams were unabashedly built to counter. Klins is clearly trying to change that, which is probably why we get exposed in D so much. (And though BB got a rap for his team conceding early this was only for a relatively small stretch of games and throughout the vast majority of his tenure, his teams were very solid defensively).

      We’re seeing the growing pains of adapting to a non-counter style. You get caught on the break more when you try to possess and push forward.

      • I agree with this completely. The problem as I see it is that regardless of style you’re trying to play, you gotta run hard after the ball and I just don’t see it with Klinsmann’s teams. Bradley’s teams bunkered (regardless of the damn situation) but they did so with a harsh tenacity.
        Klinsmann’s guys are runnin around trying to figure out what they’re gonna do 3 seconds after the ball’s been given to the other team.

      • You know who else is built to counter? Germany. Explain to me what is wrong with that? With the national team, you pick a system to suit the players.

      • Who’s won more World Cups? The beautiful, free-flowing Dutch or the Italians who wait till you fall asleep, punch you in the face and walk away. If history has taught the United States anything, its that we are pretty decent at punching people in the face.

      • A) I didn’t
        B) That being said, there were still reasons for a change
        i) Most teams rotate through managers for different cycles
        ii) Bradley was about as extreme on the bunker/counter attack as you’re gonna get, considering a great deal of the time he was facing inferior opposition in CONCACAF. Looking for a more moderate or flexible option is hardly an awful decision.
        iii) The US occasionally got slaughtered because it would sit back too much but then crack under the weight of the never ending onslaught.
        C) The firing of Bradley is only incidental to the hiring of Klinsmann. If they’d gone with a different option (somebody with a more firm grasp of what he wanted to do tactics-wise) we might not be having this discussion
        D) I’m not saying Klinsmann should be fired or that this won’t eventually work out. We’re still early enough in the process that if he can get a flow going (like they had against Scotland) this still could be a US team. The problem is he’s been in charge now long enough now where I believe we should see players knowing what they’re gonna do under pressure while we aren’t actually seeing that on the field.

      • Exactly. Italy is a bit of the same….I hear they are pretty good. Nothing wrong with counter-attack. There is little correlation between possession and win percentage in most leagues (I presume it is the same in international games but don’t know).

      • In all my years, I finally came to the decision that style actually is, at the end of the day, more important than winning. For the US to actually consistently compete against the likes of this Belgium team and the German B team on Sunday, we must go through a process that will undoubtedly involve painful mishaps, and stages of incongruent play. Sasha makes my point: He is not at international caliber to play on a top 10 team in the WC. Holden is. MB is. Jones is – anyone who has seen Shalke in CL knows this.
        We’ll be okay when Boy Wonder is back along with MB and Holden, maybe even Altidore will start to score.

      • While that’s true, part of the problem is that our possession is so ineffective. There’s little crispness, and midfielders stand around with the ball for 5-10 seconds looking for someone to pass to. Reminds me of DC United, actually.

      • this. that was the saddest thing last night: realizing that the usmnt was playing like an intl-level dc united.

  34. Interesting. This game will be controversial in the assessment of players. People’s preconceptions will be reinforced even more than usual because it is a hard game to grade players. Was the defense horrible or was it because the midfield could not close down the space to Belgium’s playmakers? Or was the midfield in a mess because of bad distribution and forwards/wingers not showing for the ball?

    Guess what…it was a comprehensive demonstration by a very good Belgium team against a US team without a plan and with players either missing (LD, MB, FJ) or out of position (Cameron, Beasley, Sacha).

    • Against a full-strength team dubbed “the golden generation” by the Belgian Press, a team that is undefeated in WC qualifying? I’d say we were lucky it wasn’t worse.

      • correct, 2tone. I was incorrect about his current normal position. But his role with club does not apparently call for as much defensive cover as was needed tonight. His team is one of the best in the league and thus, he doesn’t fall into the role of strictly d-mid. He is better at distribution and link-up than he is at zonal cover apparently….cuz he was lost out there tonight. Maybe he’s better with MB…not sure yet.

    • when your coach ties the team’s hands behind their backs going into every game by playing mind games with the team’s top players (Bradley in 2011, Altidore in 2012, Donovan in 2013) this type of butt-kicking is bound to happen…

      bottom-line is the USMNT has not made sustainable progress in either results from WCQ, developing technical homegrown players or playing attacking, attractive soccer…

      as nice as it is to have US beat Italy and Mexico on the road in 2011, or end Spain’s streak in 2009, there have been huge wins before, such as vs Brazil in 1995…

      the problem is the lows are as low as ever, losing to Honduras, jamaica, struggling to beat A&B, tying Panama…

      not matter how many wonderful ideas Klinsmann espouses he has the same talent at his disposal as Bradley, or even better and he’s doing worse with it

      • Bradley at least plays people in their primary positions, and doesn’t continually call up 7 Center Midfielders to every game! Seriously Klinsmann, we need Williams, Jones, Bradley, Edu, Klejstan, Zusi, and Holden? Not to mention 3 Left backs (beasley should be in midfield) and 1 RB, and you use a CB instead?


    • Best analysis. I do wish we had some more happy notes about DMB’s game and Holden being on his way back. We are getting better.

  35. Gonzalez and Goodson don’t complement each other well as defenders – not a good pairing. Besler and Gonzalez work better together but are not an experienced-enough pair to play against an opponent like Belgium. So there’s the dilemma. And I really don’t know how either of these two would work with Cameron, since he keeps playing RB…

    Good to see Stu!

    • I agree, but, as I see it, the last goal is really the only time where the pairing came into play. Other then that, there were just too many individual failures to just get the ball away. Goodson can’t do much about Gonzalez not doing his job.

    • But it was a friendly – would have been a good opportunity to let Besler and Gonzo develop against tough opposition. Not a dilemma IMO…

      • The top 3 CBs should be Boca, Besler and probably Cameron, though I’m not sold on him as a CB, either. Gonzo would be a a great prospect, but he’s got so much to learn.

  36. Not bad overall? That was a terrible defensive showing. Aside from a few shots and a bit of possession, we got owned. Goodson was way off his regular game, Jozy may be a great club player who is just not a great Nats player. Of course when you realize 75% of Jozy’s goals were assisted by Donovan, you start to see the real problem here.

  37. I usually defend Jozy for not getting service but he really got some decent balls in tonight and didn’t produce sadly. Also still not sold on Cameron at RB, he does ok at Stoke there cause they have no desire at all to get forward so he doesn’t have to play two ways. On the USMNT we need our fullbacks to get forward and he just doesn’t offer it.

    • Lol this might be the most wonderfully incisive match summary of this game. I do disagree that Gonzo was the worst. Felt like his mistakes were those really big teachable moments that happen to a young CB, but overall his game wasn’t bad.

    • Nonsense on both. Gonzo wasn’t good, but he was better than Goodson and Cameron. And we had no best player…

      • In the second half, EJ was the best player for the US. I am not sure if that is praise for EJ or just a sad comment about how bad all the rest were in that half. Even Dempsey struggled and Beasley for all his hustle and effort is still a small guy who will lose out in physical confrontations some of the time just because big pounds small.

  38. this should have been 6-1 when accounting for the two penalties Belgium was wrongly not awarded and the one the U.S. wrongly was…

    awful effort, pretty much all round-when Jozy was getting service he could not finish, when he tried making diagonal runs behind the backline no one looked his way, EJ was worse epsecially in terms of passing without any pressure, charging at the goal… Klestjan was making typical Klestjan passes when going forward (to the feet of the other team)… centerbacks were playing MLS level D against an EPL offense…Zusi and Davis were forgettable… Beasley was the only one with a few nifty moves…

    sure glad we taught that has-been Landon Donovan a lesson. I bet he’s feeling like Wally Pip to Zusi and Davi’s Lou Gehrig…

  39. Story of two halves. First half, I thought we showed nicely. It looks like progress is being made in the offense. Second half…ugh.

    Forward options look troubling with Jozy playing very poorly and unable to find himself for the Nats (is it a mental thing?), EJ being EJ (speedy, no brain), Boyd clearly not ready (he runs so much and yet he’s invisible), and Gomez a limited and aging poacher. I think for all the whining about this guy is better than this guy and why don’t we try so and so, the fact is none of our strikers (unless you count Demps) are all that good.

    Do we go back to Besler Gonzo in D? Does the back line just need more time together?

    In the mid, this will be unpopular I think, but I didn’t hate Brad Davis out there. No athleticism, little defensive cover, but he provides some much needed vision and crossing ability that Herc for all of his excellent work rate can’t muster. Is Kljestan finally out of chances?

    Howard excellent. Guzan pretty much left out to dry.

    • Jozy didn’t was poor tonight, but he only got a half, and he was playing against really, really good CBs. Kompany and Vermaelen/Vertonghen – lots of top strikers would struggle against those guys. You certainly need him to step up at some point, but this isn’t a nail in the coffin for me. I think Jozy/Clint is still the first choice pair up top. I think we need to try the Besler-Gonzo partnership again, though Besler isn’t going to stop Gonzo from committing mental errors.

    • agreed with howard/guzan assessment.

      TH was great. BG didn’t really have a chance on those. The stats won’t look good for BG but if TH was in there, I don’t think there would have been a different scoreline.

    • Jozy was very poor. None of our forwards are good. For me, thinnest position on the team. Jozy poor all around, EJ limited and boneheaded, Boyd’s not ready (runs around and yet does nothing), Gomez is aging and limited as a poacher against international competition.

      Agree with you on the not bad though. First half very promising. Second half ugly.

      • Agreed on Jozy. Didn’t make the most out his chances. On one hand, I’ll defend his lack of finishing in that Belgium is an excellent team with good defenders. On the other hand, I find Josy to be lazy. He never runs back to help on defense. And when he gets beat, he stops running, throws his hands up, and whines. Ugggh.

    • “Not bad overall”…pfft. That game was an embarrassment and so was that comment. You do know that the object of the game is to possess the ball( the little round thing) and control it with the feet, thereby enabling one to roll or “pass” the ball to teammates? Once a series of “passes” have been made towards the direction of the opposing teams goal the closest player with possession of the ball strikes it with their foot to place it in the goal.

      Belgium did a great job playing soccer despite the human cones in their way.

    • “Not bad overall!” also covers the Chicago Cubs quest to win the World Series for the pat 105 years, Poland’s defense in September 1939, Mike Brown’s handling of FEMA’s response to Katrina….

  40. This game was good, because now I do not need to hear about Sasha anymore. No one can possibly want to see that again. We were missing a few key guys and we aren’t good enough to win games without guys like bradley and FJ.

    • +1 okay first game to get the team together and yes, we can all agree the sasha, evans and davis have no place in the national team.. Right jurgen?

      • EJ was the only player attacking players off of the dribble. Did you not see the Attack better with EJ on the field?

      • Funny that after Jozy left Belgium scored three goals….its almost as if there was no more offensive threat and Belgium could throw more players into attack….

      • Johnson was good on the attack though the drawn penalty was a joke. Beasley had some great 1v1 defense moments and some really bad ones like the handball penalty he should have gotten.

      • Seriously. He was our only dangerous player in the 2nd half. The PK was a bad call, but it was the product of a good run and look.

      • agree about davis and evans. but with kljestan he is still a good enough player for something like this Gold Cup coming up.

      • Actually I thought Davis was a big part of the reason we had some spells of attack down his flank during the stretch of the game where we played decent. He sent some dangerous balls into the box that challeged their d as much as anything else we did. Attack from the other flank was nonexistent, and whenever Cameron tried to get forward, they would counter down his side every time. Cameron needs to be in the middle, and now its right back that appears to be a problem area.

      • he did ok, but he didn’t do that great. i think people are being WAY to harsh on Zusi. this was just another game where Davis didn’t make a difference and made a mistake that lead to a goal.

    • We should expect better than that performance. Zero shots on goal during open play and a total of only 4 shots during open play … two goals (one lucky penalty and a set piece goal). Couple that with some respectable possession numbers (49%, 507 total passes, 15 open play crosses) shows how toothless that attack was in the final third all night long.

    • Sasha did nothing tonight to move him out of the 4th spot behind Jones, Bradley and Edu in central midfield, but he did nothing to move himself up on the list either. Holden was pretty invisible except for a poorly hit pass behind the left wing, still it was nice to see him get the cameo.

      • you could have stopped at sasha did nothing. Every pass he had was backwards or to the other team

      • That is an unfair assessment of his play. But he did not provide anything in the way of offensive spark and defensively, he (and Jones) let the Belgians have too much space in midfield.

  41. I would rather see Boca old self or Fiscal over Omar Gonzalez. Goodson did not play his full potential neither. Why in the world did we put basically a b team on the field? -____-

    • I didn’t watch the game because I went to an open cup match instead so I can’t speak to Omar’s performance tonight but it’s pretty ridiculous to forget his performance against Mexico because of a meaningless friendly. You might be the only one worse than Klinsmann at picking players for the USMNT.

      • He has been worse in other games national team games too.You perform well in all games, stop making excuses for Omar saying it was just a friendly.

      • You could just as easily argue that it’s ridiculous to forget his penchant for mental errors because of one game against Mexico.

    • Goodson’s not that good. His name should be Clarence Averageson. We all would like to see old Boca but that’s not possible. And Fiscal is just not as good as Gonzo.

    • Only clear cut starter we were missing was Bradley. Belgium is pure class; legit World Cup contender. On that basis, we cant be too upset. More broadly though, whave a lot of work to do. The fact is, if you compare this team to our 1990 World Cup team, I don’t think we have progressed as much as we all would have thought. And I can’t tell you why that is. Think about it: we are 7 world cups in and where is our technical ability? How far has it progressed? It’s frustrating.

      • Our youth system hasn’t been geared towards developing players with technical ability. It’s going to take a long time for this to change and make a difference in the national team.

      • If you did not do things right you got all players w/o skills.MLS is poor league with no player development for 17 years and that’s a problem.You can compete in Concacaf but not in World Cup.

      • What an stupid statement. MLS have academies and you are seeing players like fagundez, Zardes and others start to come through the Academy team. How about watch the league before you talk.

      • Why would you need to observe these younger players, when the lack of skill and tactical savvy is right there in front of you with the full men’s national team in a mid-week friendly against an A-plus Belgium side? The reality is that the U.S. is just not that good of a footballing nation. The problem is cultural and systemic and will take many decades to “fix.” That said, all due credit goes to guys like Dempsey, Beasley, Howard, Bradley and the small other handful like them; these guys have had remarkable careers. But in the end the U.S. just doesn’t produce quality footballers who can control the tempo and midfield game, which is where virtually all matches are won and lost (see: France’s ’98 team, Spain’s ’10 team, Argentina’s ’86 team, etc.). Players like Donovan and Claudio Reyna are terribly rare in the States. Last night’s match was another reminder of that. The Belgium side eviscerated the U.S. midfield, depriving it of any rhythm and cohesiveness. Painful to watch. The Belgians were hungrier, more skilled on the ball and just tactically savvy. Somewhat of an aside as well: please – ESPN, FOX, NBC, etc., for the sake of the public’s burgeoning edification – terminate your contracts with guys like Lalas, Twellman and so on. You could put all these fellows in the same room and they wouldn’t be able to think themselves out of a Lego castle. It’s utterly painful to listen to them for 90 minutes. They either don’t have a clue about the beautiful game or are simply shameless shills.

      • Good point. However, we are improving, albeit painfully so, on the skill in midfield. If Holden stays healthy, and MB is in the game, it would appear much different.

        Altidore is an absolute enigma to me. How does he not make more of an impact?

      • Did you even watch the 1990 team? You must be smoking something funny or be delusional to say we haven’t progressed much from that team. Not one of them was a pro, it was mostly a bunch of college players. They lost one game like 5-0 and Tony Meola was flying all over the place making one great save after another or it could have been much worse. While some 1990 players went on to good careers, it’s ridiculous to mention them and the current team in the same post, much less the same sentence. Today they had a bad game in a friendly against one of the best teams in the world. It happens. The US team beat Italy in Italy in a friendly and lost in Belgium only 1-0. If the US gets 7 points out of the next 3 games in the Hex, this will be forgotten, as it should be.

      • You really need to step back, if you can find a tape from 1990/94, watch it, watch how our team plays now and reevaluate your comments.

        We would hunker down and then just kick the ball as far as we could and hope someone would run on to it.

        Watch the ’94 Brazil game – I think the score was 1-0 but I don’t think we even got a shot on goal and they just toyed with us and ran out the clock. You got the impression that they could have scored on us at will if they wanted to.

        The quality and depth of our current players is head and shoulders above 90/94/98.

        Our keepers are probably on a par but there were gaps in our team that were compensated for by athleticism and desire.

        Our gameplan was always the same, sit back and try to beat the opponent on the counter against the run of play. We had a handful of fast, extremely fit one-dimensional players who occasionally could nick a goal along with 2 or 3 players of any top-level talent.

        Other than Renya I don’t think there was a single player in the midfield that could play on this team. Who from those squads is better than Dempsey/ Jones/ Bradley/ Donnovan (other than Donnovan?)

        We have been a bit frustrated on the attacking end which confounds me with Altidore because it is obviously just a matter of time (I agree he is no Brian McBride) but we all know the potential is there.

        We need to play these types of games to get an honest read on Gonzales and Besler because we need them to see what the world is like beyond MLS-level talent if we are considering handing them the keys to car.

        But I think there is a bit of hazy memories regarding our backline. WHO was ever any good in the backline for us? Lalas? Check the record! Jeff “own goal” Agoos, Eddie Pope? Gooch (was forever unfulfilled potential) and with all due respect to Bocanegra – who was one of my all time favorites, but he was never more than a servicable, better than average player on the world stage.

        I think the frustration is that there is a gulf in class from the top elite teamslike Spain, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Argentina and us. We have moved from the third tier of also rans and can beat most teams on a good day but don’t have the top-to-bottom class that very few teams have (like Belgium) I am all for playing these tough games to test the non-European players along with those playing in the lesser European leagues.

        I think we will be fine as long as our backline stiffens which it seems like is what we have been saying for the past12 years.

    • Hate to break it to you. But those were our best players…. A few were not with the team yet but yeah, that’s the extent of our soccer talent here in the states. Sad. If been saying for years over and over again. STOP USING THESE SUBPAR PLAYERS! WHO CARES WHERE THEY PLAY THEY ARENT GOOD ENOUGH YET! People keep trying to force us to use mls players who aren’t as developed as our foreign based ones. That is a fact.

      Everyone would agree that we want our own league to do well and start producing world class players, but we aren’t there yet. We have numerous young and yet guys playing in Europe who are not only better but are more developed players. I can’t tell you how many times I have to look away from the tv because our players can’t dribble, have zero attacking intelligence and cam only pick the correct pass 3 out of 10 times. Player are constantly played out of position but then when are played in position they still look amateur because for one they are and secondly the team is.

      If jozy is extremely frustrated I don’t blame him. We complained for years about him not being a target forward but look at him with his club. His hold up play is good and he has a team around d him who have skill, know how to combine and know when to pass and when not to. Sadly we don’t have that here, not with the players that keep getting called up at least.

      I can’t wait for the gold cup because maybe just maybe we will get to see some of our you g talent who know how to actually play the game. A 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 with any combination of boyd, gatt, johannsson, gyau, mixx, corona, costillo, morales, with a defense hopefully anchored by brooks (fingers crossed). Would be soo much better to watch because theykn

      • Know how to play. Our team will get us through qualifying but we won’t Excell until we wake up, star integrating these player and kill any notion that mls cali er players like Evans and Co are worth a roster spot.

      • Silly comments, the best players we have were there for the US, save a few. Some of the young talent you mention struggles to break out of the norwegian league, or get games in the german 2nd division. If they were that good, this wouldnt be the case. Meanwhile Belgiums young talent starts for prem clubs, including many very good clubs. It’s simply a talent gap.

      • I wouldn’t underestimate missing Bradley and FJohnson. Changes the whole team and the way we play.

      • I would throw Torres on the list. He is the most technical player in the US pool and also the best passer. He looked good against Belgium last time they played them a year and a half ago. I still don’t get how he wasn’t even called up….

      • any word on why Jozy left the pitch & didn’t return after half…wasn’t on field to support team?

      • If the players in Europe are so much better, how come Jozy hasn’t scored for awhile? The Norway league is not the level of MLS, ITS BELOW. Morels plays in the second division and Europe, and Gyau hasn’t done anything to be proud of either. We have some young talent, that is now starting to come into academies, talent like Zardes.

    • This friendly doesn’t matter. The bigger question is why we’re going into the WC qualifiers without some of our best players.

      • because Landon Donovan is apparently not as good as Zusi or Davis or Evans or EJ playing on the wing, or he needs to be taught a lesson, or something…I’m sorry I’m getting lost among the schwachsinn…

      • Yeah, Donovan would have been a better choice than any of out outside midfielders tonight. 70%, 80%, 90%, what ever he is, it was better than THAT =)

    • I thought Goodson was at least if not more at fault on the second goal. He was absolutely ball watching and standing still, not covering the secondary run. Not absolving Gonzales, but Goodson sucked eggs on that play

      • I thought he was slow tracking back to cover the goal when Howard was out on the first goal. He was closest defender to the goal and should have sprinted to cover the goal…very poor awareness. It’s the first thing they teach you as a defender when your keeper is caught out of goal.

      • Goodson was at fault for the first goal too. When you’re keeper leaves his line, and you’re on the weak side, get your butt to the line and/or pick up the trailing player. He did neither. As on the second goal, he ball watched, stopped playing completely.

    • we don’t need no Boca no Davies no Goody ph*ck them all.You put MLS-ers on the field so you got no skills no vision and you lost.

      • BS. Sacha and JJ got outclassed in the midfield tonight, one example

        and the MLSers got it done in Azteca in a qualifier, remember? even if it took injuries to force that lineup out there

        biggest problem tonight was the midfiled without Bradley

    • Sorry, that was not a B team. It was the best players available on the night. Sure with Bradley, a fit Donavon, healthy Cherundolo, F. Johnson, and Chandler the starters would have been different, and likely the play better, you could argue that Boca would not have made the mental errors, but everyone has recognized his lack of speed and that is a liability. What really stood out in this game was the mental lapses by especially the central defense. Two backs ball watching on the first goal, a careless play by Gonzo that setup an easy cross for a tap-in, lack of pressure at midfield that allowed a beautiful pass over the top and a quality finish on the last goal (that one was on the midfield, not the backs) and on Fellaini’s headed goal, there were at least 2 errors leading to the cross that beat the backs (maybe that one was not on the central defense). Belgium did what good teams do, they capitalized on the US mistakes and the US made too many of them. Perhaps surprisingly the mistakes that led to the goals were not so much due to lack of skill, but to the lack of concentration and poor old-fashioned, single-minded defending. Sure increased skill would help, but none of the goals against the US tonight was due to poor skill, but rather, lapses in the mental aspects of the game.
      Now if you want to ask why the US did not create more scoring chances, that does come down to skill, too often the passes were a little off, a bit too slow, or too predictable and the first touch was not good enough and too often required a second touch.

      • What about the lack of movement off the ball and creativity in the final third? How many Arjan-Robben-type diagonal runs did we make in(to) the area?

        Some players (e.g. Brian Ching, Wondo) are just not good enough to play internationally. That is the case with Altidore, no matter what he does on the small stage. I predict he will never prosper for the national team.

    • It’s called building for the future. We can’t keep playing the same old guard, and then have no one prepared to back them up. Gonzo was arguably the best player for the US against Costa Rica and Mexico.

      Instant gratification needs to be put on the back burner.


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