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Contenders for more USMNT playing time come up short vs. Belgium

Sacha Kljestan, Christian Benteke

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CLEVELAND – Wednesday night’s match against Belgium was supposed to be a golden opportunity for some U.S. Men’s National Team players to stake their claims to starting spots, or at the very least improve positions on the depth chart.

By the end of Wednesday’s 4-2 Belgium triumph at FirstEnergy Stadium, there were few clearcut bright spots and no real examples of players taking full advantage of their chance to impress U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Omar Gonzalez, Sacha Kljestan and Brad Davis were among the players handed starts on Wednesday, but none of the three stood out as top performers for the Americans. As much as Belgium would cause problems for even top players, the three failed to capitalize on their opportunities and admittedly did not enjoy their finest outings.

Take Gonzalez, for instance. The LA Galaxy centerback was involved in both Kevin Mirallas’ sixth-minute opener and Christian Benteke’s tie-breaking goal in the 56th minute, plays that overshadowed some of the good that Gonzalez delivered in just his seventh cap and also raised questions as to whether he will be one of the starters at centerback when the matches become more meaningful in a couple weeks’ time.

“I’m not going to say that I did great or I did poor but I thought it was a fun game to be a part of and definitely a learning experience,” Gonzalez told SBI. “I wished that I could have played these kind of games earlier in my career but I’m playing them now and I just have to learn from what’s going on and keep on moving forward and hope that I can learn quickly and just look forward to the next game.”

Gonzalez was not totally to blame for Belgium’s first two goals and he did enjoy some decent moments in the game, as he was his usual dominant self in the air and also came close to scoring on a header in the second half. Still, the two plays Gonzalez will most be remembered for in this match were the ones that cost the U.S. goals and the 6-foot-5 defender knows that those type of errors need to be weeded out and fast.

“The play is definitely faster but it’s not something that I don’t think I can handle,” said Gonzalez. “I think I’m ready to be out here and that’s why Jurgen has me playing, because he believes in me and I believe in myself and I want to be out here representing the country.

“Let’s just hope that during these friendlies, these mistakes can happen but during the qualifiers they cannot happen. I want to be focused enough so that I can get these things out of here now against these teams and then hopefully not do (in) the future.”

Kljestan was not directly involved in the U.S. conceding four times, but he also failed to replicate the type of play that has made him a standout at Belgian club Anderlecht. Part of the reason for that was his lack of understanding with central midfield partner Jermaine Jones, whose rangy runs left Kljestan isolated often.

That lack of understanding was not entirely to blame for Kljestan’s struggles, though. The veteran midfielder failed to hit the mark on some simple short passes and afterwards admitted that he did not perform to the best of his abilities.

“The coaches gave me a couple of points to try to focus on tonight: One was to join into the attack and try to make some late runs into the box, which I tried to do but the service didn’t really come,” said Kljestan. “The second thing was try and control the tempo of the game when I had the ball, which I thought I did pretty well at that. In the first half, things got a little bit hectic and we were getting tired already and we had to slow it down a bit, so I think I did that all right. Overall, an okay game.”

As for Davis, he struggled to make an impact during his 63 minutes on the field. Davis was involved in helping set up Geoff Cameron’s equalizer in the 22nd minute but that was one of few notable contributions from the Houston Dynamo ace in a game where the U.S. could have used more from their flank players.

While Davis acknowledged there is room for improvement, he was confident that he did enough to see more playing time in the near future. Davis also credited Klinsmann with setting a tone that let players know one bad performance alone wouldn’t necessarily doom their chances to earn more looks.

“Jurgen does a good job of saying it’s not a pressure situation. ‘You know there’s going to be other opportunities to play so go out and be yourself’,” Davis said of Klinsmann’s words of encouragement. “(Klinsmann has told me) This isn’t going to make or break you unless I had a complete blunder and I don’t think that happened.

“I think I did some good things. I think it’s a good game to build on, creating a partnership (with left back DaMarcus Beasley) and I definitely think that performance will get me some looks so overall I thought it was an alright first game with the first team.”

Kljestan, Davis and Gonzalez all may have felt like they played relatively well on Wednesday, but time will tell whether Klinsmann agreed. The opportunities, or lack therefore, that they receive in the team’s upcoming matches will show whether they helped, or hurt, their U.S. standings on Wednesday night.


  1. where you watching the same game?? Altitore is the poster child for whats wrong with USMNT. No vision, non-existent runs, technically deficient and no soccer brain. The guy sucks!

  2. Davis was just sad, he shouldn’t be anywhere the US national team. Zusi was mediocre but has performed better in the past. Beasley I like but he is still better suited for the midfield. Cameron still screams CB trying to play fullback to me and Gonzo needs to keep concentrating, he definitely falls asleep. Goodson was pretty meh to me as well. Klejstan was a ghost.

    Lastly Altidore needed to stay on, he is our best striker and needs confidence.

  3. Our offense was completely stagnant. Jones would get the ball in midefield and have no options. Not a single offensive player would make a strong run in to space, if anything just a halfhearted effort to show to the ball.

    Defensive pressure on the ball is the other thing missing from the USMNT lately. We give the other team way too much time on the ball in their offensive half. Gotta change that.

    • Completely agree that these are the two biggest issues we have right now. I believe the defensive mistakes are correctible and woul donly be helped more by more on the ball pressure in midfield.

  4. Belgium simply outclassed a punchless US team, whose best players on paper (Deuce, Jozy, JJ, etc..) didn’t seem too interested in playing too hard – which, given the fact it’s a friendly right before crucial WCQ games can be understood.
    The guys who were trying to give it their best, the fringe players for whom this game meant the most, Sasha, Davis, etc.. just came up short and showed that for the most part they didn’t belong at this level.
    To our credit, there was an attempt to play a possession game, though the lack of talented players made us do so quite naively and without any impact.
    The defensive blunders just prove how difficult it is to replace an entire back line, after Boca, Gooch, DeMerit, Dolo.. It’s a strange time for the USA, a generational transition.

  5. To me, it’s simple. US teams have always had fight and are good in the air, in the mixer. Build the team to hit crosses and win the aerial game in the box. HOnestly, I’d rather see the Earthquakes’ forwards (Wondo, Lenhart, Gordon) making it messy than watching us fail attacking up the middle. Not our best players by any stretch, but they are going to score more than we currently are. How many games do we need to play without any chances before we realize that we are best hitting crosses and getting dirty? Build the team around that. Winger that can hit a cross and defend (Landon and Fabian?) and big physical guys in the box…

  6. Anyone who has been watching MLS games since the March qualifiers has seen Gonzalez responsible for a number of screwups/ball-watching. If Gonzo is doing that against MLS sides, what do people expect against a top-quality EPL side (which is essentially what Belgium is)?

    Last night was men against boys. Look at how Belgium pinged the ball around with ease while the US was clumsily trapping it and struggling to string passes together. And it looked like Belgium never took it out of second gear the whole night.

    Unfortunately, IF the US gets out of their group at the WC, most likely they will be facing a team like a Belgium (if not a top power like Netherlands, France, Spain, etc.)…gulp. At least you would want to see them compete.

  7. Gonzo paired with Goodson was an interesting choice from Klinnsman that clearly didn’t work and proved to be a mistake, and Cameron isn’t a RB although he’s a good player. DMB isn’t a LB although he’s a good player

    last night’s back 4.

    add in the innumerable turnovers in midfieldd, and a midfield that spent much of the game as traffic cones defensively, and boom, last night’s result. Add in how many shots on goal the US created (did I read ZERO from the run of play???) and there you have it

    hopefully Germany shows up overconfident and lacking grit after watching this US performance…that would help a lot

  8. Am I the only one that saw some silver lining in this game? I thought our composure on the ball was much improved. In many previous games it seemed like as soon as a team put pressure on our ball handler we would cough it up immediately. Only a handful of players had the confidence and wherewithal to shield the ball under pressure and find more than an immediate pass back or a hasty poorly struck ball into traffic. Last night playing against a very strong Belgium team I saw many players all over the field remaining calm under pressure and taking that quick step to allow them to pass around people. Its a small step but you can’t really do anything consistently without it so I thought it was good to see.

    • This comment is waaaay too positive and realistic. Where the h*ll is the moderator?

      I’m with you though, there’s more positives than negatives.

  9. Anyone who blames Jozy for that performance is bonkers. He is up against four of the best back in the world, and gets one, maybe two chances???

    Back on planet earth, 4 defensive mistakes = 4 goals. Or, to put it as the Belguim players did: “Every mistake that the U.S. made, we scored a goal.” Nuff said.

    • That’s because if you play a high line and the other team sneaks in behind you, they are in a high percentage position to exploit their chances. If you look at the recent games, Costa Rica played us on snow, and Mexico played a game where they would play keepaway then hit crosses into waiting defenders. Neither team really got to run at our defense playing this far up. Their battle plan was real simple, pass it between defenders and run. The CBs were slow and the wings naive, so it worked all day.

    • I’m not gonna blame Jozy for the loss but I’m personally tired of seeing him out there. I’ve been one that has held to the fact that he gets no service, which is partially true, but his lack of effort is frustrating. He doesn’t work hard to win balls, doesn’t hold up play and hi soverall movement off the ball is poor. He absolutely has to do better with Dempsey’s cross in the first half.

      I thought Eddie Johnson, with equally poor service, was much more effective at getting involved in the game. I may be alone but I’m ready to give up on Jozy. While they may not have the skill of Jozy but at least EJ and Herc Gomez have the work rate to make more of an impact on the game.

      • I agree his work rate is questionable, but think he does a better job of holding up balls than any other forward on the team. EJ is more of a wing player, so he uses his speed and opens up the flank, same with Herc, but can’t do what Jozy does in the middle. Dempsey, similarly, has a poor work rate, throws up his arms or goes and talks to the ref instead of chasing the ball down when he loses it. But, you, it’s different in the fact that he actually scores! He is actually the ONLY US player that scores regularly, so I don’t think you can blame any other offensive player more than another.

      • After posting I remembered that while EJ cam in for Jozy, he actually was playing on the wing so I guess it wasn’t a good comparison. However, somehow Jozy kept ending up on the wing too. I would agree with most of what you’re saying I just prefer someone who will at least provide energy and maybe open up space for someone else. It would be nice to have a player like Donovan who can not only deliver crosses but run into space and has some creativity. I guess we’ll all have to wait for that.

  10. Suzi stood out as a player who did not belong out there. Offense came to a halt once he had the ball…and that was when he wasn’t gifting possession.

  11. This is the most disturbing thing I have seen in the past 24 hours related to US Soccer. Sure it’s a friendly I get that but this is why the team has no fire. These situations should be pressure situations as its the top rung of your profession and you give a damn because you are wearing the colors of your country. Jerken has got to go.

    “Jurgen does a good job of saying it’s not a pressure situation. ‘You know there’s going to be other opportunities to play so go out and be yourself’,” Davis said of Klinsmann’s words of encouragement. “(Klinsmann has told him) This isn’t going to make or break you unless I had a complete blunder and I don’t think that happened.

  12. A couple things that must change:

    1. T-rex Twellman has to go, its obvious he isn’t watching the same game. If you remember the type of player he was you will understand why he is so clueless. Can’t stand him

    2. Zusi is all hustle and a couple flashy first touches, never gets in behind the d , never delivers the ball in behind.

    3. No substitue for understanding, Matt Besler needs to be on the field , no ?s asked

    4. Jozy is a bum, enough said

    5. Is Jermaine Jones more of the problem than the solution, he just does whatever he wants whenever he wants, and not in a good way like Lebron.

  13. Felt more like 5-1. This system and formation isn’t for USNT, we’re not Dutch or Spaniards to play this system, most teams have easier time controling our striker with this formation.

    Beasley isn’t a leftback, Beasley has more creative spark and speed than Davis or Zusi.

    Gonzalez was MWP, two mistake that cause two goals, but Gonzalez learned from mistakes.

    Davis had too many chances and failed with Arenas and Breadley, and continue to fail under Klinsmann.

    • Brad Davis had 5 total caps between Bradley and Arenas. And one of those caps involved him hitting the game winning penalty against Panama to win the Gold Cup.

      • Davis isn’t USNT player like Wondoski and Kreis. Davis never perform well and looks below average, but Klinsmann’s system makes most our players look below average.

    • It would’ve been 5-1 if we hadn’t got a bogus penalty call and been let off the hook when a much more blatant handball in the box wasn’t called.

      • The team looked like headless chicken. The Belgies made USNT look like Belize-caliber team.

  14. Last night around 12:00am (EDT), Landon Donovan’s phone rang.
    LD: “Hey, JK! What’s up?”
    JK: “Well, what’s up with you?”
    LD: “I’m in Carolina watching our reserves get waxed.”
    JK: “Hmmm … I know the feeling.”
    LD: “Hey, I saw the score … was it as bad it sounds?”
    JK: “I’m calling you immediately after the match, aren’t I?”

  15. Was that the slowest US lineup we’ve had in a decade? Speed creates space, space allows creativity. With no speed you can make all the runs you want but you can’t deliver the balls without space.

    Also, Fellaini is highly overrated but that Belgium team is very good.

  16. Saw this coming a mile away. I think Klinsmann is fundamentally a good coach. But he doesn’t seem to understand one of the simplest things about international soccer: YOU HAVE TO HAVE A FRICKING FIRST TEAM. He just ignores Donovan (not to mention other deserving players) and plays scrubs. The worst part of it is that this is his roster for actual world cup qualifiers!

    We should qualify even with Klinsmann’s insistence on not ever playing a true first team, but I truly would not be surprised if he is the first idiot to steer us out of world cup qualification since 1990. He’s THAT ignorant of the team he coaches.

  17. Why is it that not a single player is performing better under Klinsmann than he was under Bradley? And not a single new player has been playing well for the national team?

    When are we going to wake up and realize that there is only one logical explanation to a never-ending string of poor performances (yeah, there’ve been a few good results, but not performances)? Why can’t this team average more than 1.5 shots on goal per game? Why is there absolutely no coherent, flowing, attacking soccer? Why is the defense almost always in disarray? Why have the leaders of the team for many years — Donovan, Boca, Gooch, Cherundolo (and I don’t for a second believe that he just wanted to rest this summer — we only have Klinsmann’s word for it) — been so hastily discarded?

    Is it possible that the savior Klinsmann has no clothes?

    • +1 People should not forget that in March we had a player mutiny against Klinsmann the likes of which we have never seen before. And make no mistake, a significant number of USMNT players were in accord with at least a portion of the complaints in the Brian Straus story. Straus did not make up the news article, as some have tried to insinuate. And no doubt some of the players who were either direct or indirect sources for the article were on the field last night. Yes, you can quibble with parts of the story, but when taken as a whole, the story indicated a major problem within the team that might still be smoldering below the surface.

      Maybe it can all be worked out and things will start to gel and we take 7 points in the next 3 WCQ games and Klinsmann will be hailed as a genius and running on all cylinders next autumn. We shall see.

    • You won’t listen to reason, so why should people respond to you?

      Onyewu was well on his way out before Klinsmann came in. His knee injury essentially ended his international career. Not to mention he has either 1 or 0 appearances for his club team this calendar year. Carlos Bocanegra just recently started playing again for his club–bottom of the Spanish second division–he is not the player he was. Like Onyewu.

      You have no evidence to support the fact that Klinsmann made up that a 34 year old Cherundolo coming off a major injury asked for the summer to fully heal and be able to continue his club career.

      Do you have evidence to support yourself?

      • +1 the back line was due an over haul, due to injuries and age. Maybe Boca should have been handled better maybe he could have played a bit more, maybe he is not at this top level until he moves to a diff. club. Did Klinsman run him off, or is it that his form has dipped? I don’t know

        However we have no attack what so ever. If that does not change it is going to be a long hard road to Brasil and a quick exit if we make it there.

      • Actually, Gooch had 9 appearances in all competition this past season. Of course, that’s not much, and he’s not the player he used to be; however, he is with one of the top teams in one of the top leagues in the world. And how many appearances did Shea have this past season to warrant a callup?

        I don’t buy the “Cherundolo wants to fully heal” excuse. If he wasn’t fully healed, why would he come back after the injury and play for Hannover at the end of the season? The team was not in any kind of a relegation/promotion battled, was firmly entrenched in the middle of the table, and didn’t need to risk Cherundolo’s health. Of course, I don’t have any solid evidence, but given everything that’s been going on, it’s a possibility.

    • Tactics. The formation does not create chances and when played with a high line exposes slow defenders.

    • JK came in during a major transition all over the field and unfortunately we didn’t have many players in the pipeline ready to replace them. Many of our long time stalwarts are declining but the best we have to replace them are still just players with potential or ones that have been there for a while but never fully developed. Not only do we have that transition in talent but we also are changing our tactics which is exposing some players who played well in the old system but aren’t perfect fits in the new. In addition I can’t think of a truly cupcake friendly that has been scheduled during the JK era except perhaps Scotland so we aren’t exactly making it easy.

      That said we have never played flowing attacking soccer unless you count random isolated counter attacks as flowing attacking soccer and we’ve definitely never generated large amounts of quality chances on goal so if anything we simply haven’t seen improvement in those areas. In order to generate consistent possession and offense you need to play higher and pressure to create turnovers instead of sit back and defend. That exposes our defense making it look even more shaky (it looked no better during our 1-4 drubbing at the hands of Brazil’s U-23 team last year when Onyewu, Boca, Dolo, and Johnson were starting; Onyewu and Boca especially looked slow; Donovan also played with little effect).

      JK may or may not have any clothes but tbh I doubt any coach would fare any better under these circumstances. You could argue we shouldn’t have gone away from bunker ball tactics or that we should be playing friendlies with people closer to our talent level but I’d argue that isn’t how you improve. If anything our player development system has no clothes.

      • Check the player ratings tab too. They were not pleased with Boca and Gooch. They were slow AND had poor distribution. The only think they have on the new potential CBs is better decision making because they have experience.

      • @wandmdave: I happen to love counter attacks, think it is one of the most beautiful aspects of soccer. In two years under Klinsmann, to the best of my recollection, we have not scored one goal from a counter-attack. But we have improved substantially at back-passing. Klinsmann has effectively destroyed out counter-attacking.

        Laondon Donovan’s emotional last-second goal in World Cup 2010, would not have happened had Jurgen Klinsmann been the coach.

      • That is one area where I cannot argue. There are times when it looks like the team can and should break and a player steps on the ball to wait for the team to move up as a unit which allows the opponents D to set. I find that infuriating. Even if we are going to play a possession style that doesn’t mean we have to forgo obvious break away opportunities. I still remember the counter attack goal we scored against Brazil in the Confederations Cup final in 2009.
        Awesome stuff.

        That being said those counters were very rare. There would usually only be opportunities a handful of times per game and most would fissile quickly and end up giving the ball right back to the other team. Against quality teams it meant we’d bunker in our 1/3rd for 80 minutes with a brief breakout now and again. Against lower quality opponents or opponents with a lead we’d often be forced to press the attack because the other team was bunkering more than we were and we’d resort to hopeful long balls and would rarely if ever look close to matching even our current low amount of attacking threat. Our best opportunities would be the rare event where we could counter attack a counter attack which was pretty frustrating and pathetic especially when we were behind. I still prefer our current tactics even if we have lost the ability to identify the proper times to run a counter attack.

      • Part of it may also be our lack of speed in attack these days but the point still stands. We don’t counter at all anymore.

      • Thanks for that link. That is a beautiful counter, pushed up field to Landon who one toiches to Charlie Davies likewise one touches back to Donovan and a superb finish from Donovan. wow.

  18. I don’t get the concept of playing Sasha Klesjtan because he plays in Belgium and has experience playing against Belgian players. Most top Belgian players don’t play in Belgium. You know who has experience against Belgian players? Eric Lichaj. He played against Lukalu in the BPL. He also has experience playing against Bentake because he played against him everyday in practice.

  19. Have to agree with Mike E. What exactly did people think was going to happen against one of the best and hottest teams in the world?

    • I dont’ think anyone expected to win 3-0, but I think the expectation was to go out, show some quality against a superior team, not give away goals with bad touches, come away with a draw, more shots on goal, and the feeling that some of our back-ups can step in when yellow cards or injuries are a factor.

      Maybe I did set expectations too high, I don’t know.

      • We played quite well against them in the first half. It was a promising start with some good passing and a focus on build up play, which resulted in several great chances that weren’t put away.

        The second half of friendlies are always chaos with mass substitutions. At it stands, this Belgium squad has conceded only 1 goal in 6 games in European qualifying.

      • We played quite well against them in the first half. It was a promising start with some good p@ssing and a focus on build up play, which resulted in several great chances that weren’t put away.

        The second half of friendlies are always chaos with m@ss substitutions. At it stands, this Belgium squad has conceded only 1 goal in 6 games in European qualifying.

  20. Please for the love of soccer what did Holden do last night to deserve praises and a spot anywhere on the 22 man roster? Do people love a comeback story because that’s all it is……he’s touches where off, didn’t do anything in the attack….and yet he’s in so many people’s answers to our team’s problems and on the plane going to Brazil. Is it the blond hair? The honest look? Currently he is nowhere near Sasha Kljestan and pass performances/accomplishments/achievements mean absolutely nothing going into the future. Your current form should dictate your spot on the roster. Imagine if Bedoya, Feilhaber, Edu or Diskerud had come in and played like Stu…..would anyone be calling their number? Holden is a work in progress but nowhere near National Team status……and I’d rather have Freddy Adu, Lee Nguyen, Benny Feilhaber, Diskerud or even Agudelo (as a midfielder) in as a substitute, as a game changer…rather than a current form Stewart Holden. Until he is back to form and seriously contributing for club he has no business playing for country

    • I’m not here touting Stu as a savior but I think he’s on the roster to maintain/increase fitness, and continue his recovery.

      I don’t think it’s hard to project his potential return to the ability he’s previously shown as much higher than anyone we have behind Michael Bradley.

      Also, he contributed incredibly well, while on loan, and during his return. Both managers praised him and the effect he had on the respective clubs.

      Those are some reasons he’s on the roster that I’ve read.

  21. Interesting that Matt Besler is the fastest player in the team at the moment. Or at least thats what T-Rex Twellman was saying last night.

    If I hear T-Rex call Lalas “Big Red” one more time like its some sort of new idea, my head is going to explode.

    • I kept thinking that he was confusing Besler with Beasley. SKC fan here – I watch most of their games, and Besler has never impressed me with his speed. He’s not slow, just never has struck me as speedy player.

      • He ran down Benteke at one point–I think it was right before Twellman said that. I was surprised at how fast he was!

    • ian said that and taylor asked for evidence, twellman is better than john harkes. and Lalas loves the attention he gets from being ginger, have you seen his twitter. Btw, i feel like ESPN likes the JIm rome/Skip Bayless attitudes of negativity with our soccer announcers. They seem so angry.

  22. Simple truth regarding the article topic. For the USA, there really are no real contenders for spots on the national team. The depth just really isn’t there. Maybe for CONCACAF, they can hang, but against top teams of the world, the full contingent of first team players need to all be 100% healthy and available just to give the team a shot. The USA just doesn’t have the luxury of other top teams of the world to plug in players when others are resting from club seasons, injured, etc. They need the return of Donovan, Bocanegra, Cherundulo, Bradley, Fabian Johnson, etc….I understand the resting them part, and can live with that for friendlies, but it gets mighty nervous when they are not available for qualifiers….Hopefully Bocanegra can get his club situation figured out and return to the team….Yes, Klinsmann is trying to separate himself from the Bradley era, pick new generation players, but he can’t leave out every veteran if he wants leadership on the team….

  23. Klinsmann is, of course, absolutely correct. We have lots of creative offensive players miles ahead of Donovan, and tons of central defenders way ahead of Bocanegra. And we need to thank the refs for keeping the score more or less respectable.

    • Answer this–when is the last time you watched Carlos Bocanegra play soccer? Ill help you out with that–probably more than a year ago since bottom of the Spanish second division gamea aren’t shown anywhere on television outside of small pockets in Spain.

      You see you think you’re making a point, but you aren’t. You’re basically saying “I haven’t seen this player in a very long time, and their club situation would indicate that they’ve really dropped in form, but the large coaching staff of professionals who evaluate players day in and day out don’t know what they’re talking about.”

      Sounds silly, no?

      • Well, then explain this. How come “the large coaching staff of professionals who evaluate players day in and day out” thought enough of Bocanegra to bring him to Honduras (and Boca wasn’t even playing for his club team at the time, unlike the end of the season)? Surely he couldn’t do any worse than Gonzales, Cameron, and Goodson have been doing lately. And I firmly believe that the level of play in the Spanish second division is higher than that of the MLS. And, by the way, Racing Santander in spite of its poor season was one of the top defensive teams in Segunda Division.

      • It took me 10 seconds to Google Racing Santanders defensive statistics–they had the third worst GD in the second division at -16 and have been relegated to the 3rd division.

    • I’m sure Bocanegra would agree with you right up until he pulls a muscle having helped allow a goal. He’s simply too old and not regularly used and fit, and we already should have the 2006 World Cup as a dismal example of what going to the well too long looks like.

  24. All I ever hear is excuses, Belgium played at their 50% potential, walking, they won walking, when are we having a good competitve team?, it´s dissapointing.

  25. Please for the love of soccer what did Holden do last night to deserve praises and a spot anywhere on the 22 man roster? Do people love a comeback story because that’s all it is……he’s touches where off, didn’t do anything in the attack….and yet he’s in so many people’s answers to our team’s problems and on the plane going to Brazil. Is it the blond hair? The honest look? Currently he is nowhere near Sasha Kljestan and pass performances/accomplishments/achievements mean absolutely nothing going into the future. Your current form should dictate your spot on the roster. Imagine if Bedoya, Feilhaber, Edu or Diskerud had come in and played like Stu…..would anyone be calling their number? Holden is a work in progress but nowhere near National Team status……and I’d rather have Freddy Adu, Lee Nguyen, Benny Feilhaber, Diskerud or even Agudelo (as a midfielder) in as a substitute, as a game changer…rather than a current form Stewart Holden. Until he is back to form and seriously contributing for club he has no business playing for country

    • Holden is only there to help him recover his fitness and form. Considering we have no effective answers at attacking mid right now giving him the slot to help him recover and see if he can regain his previous form makes some sense. Is he definitely going to pan out? Not necessarily. Could other players with potential have used a speculative call up like Mixx or Corona? Most definitely. My only guess is Holden was playing at an A team level at one point and I think most people would bet someone thats already been at that level but dropped due to injury has more chance to reach it again than someone who is still growing but has never actually attained that level yet.

    • I think the concept is that Holden has much more upside, hasn’t been playing, and if given practices and games for weeks with us, will get fit by the end and flourish. Whether that plays out is another story, but it’s based on potential. He was in the Confed Cup rotation and I think JK sees bigger things for him than anyone on your list. As do I, if he’s healthy. Anyone who’s played soccer knows you need to be fit to execute.

    • Did you watch the rest of our team receive passes? Holden is one the very few who can quickly collect and distribute the ball, maybe the only player on the field yesterday. Just watch how the rest of our players lose control of the ball. Holden has a ways to go to be where he once was, but you can see he has more skill that Sacha, Davis or Zusi. Yes we love comeback stories as well, but it isn’t like it’s the return of Jonathon Bornstein. This is a quality player, and if you look at our roster right now, their aren’t a lot of those to go around.

  26. We already know Omar is overawed and too slow …
    We already know that Zusi is too slow
    We already know Sacha can’t make simple passes
    We already know Brad Davis sucks as an international

    All of these players might be serviceable against the Trinidad and Tobagos of the world but not NEARLY good enough for better teams

    Omar imparticular looked good against Mexico but ha been to slow in every other intl game

    • We’ll leave Zusi off the list due to the Donovan issue which I don’t want to get into but for the rest of them who would you replace them with? Johnson could replace Davis but he wasn’t available. Boca would be Omar’s obvious replacement but if you are complaining about Omar being slow then he isn’t any better and as I recall Boca got burned by some speedy forwards in the last few games he featured for the US. Those forwards just weren’t playing on one of the hottest teams in Europe and weren’t as clinical with their chances. We have players to replace Sacha with, notably Bradley, but he wasn’t available.

      I’d love to replace our whole team with players that have Messi or Ronaldo’s level of physical gifts and talent too unfortunately I haven’t found a genie to grant me wishes out of thin air yet.

  27. I thought Brad Davis was representative of one of the biggest problems we have in the attack. He seemed intent on banging long balls up and across the field every time he got a touch. Time after time, Davis and most of the rest of the team just floated balls forward in hopes that someone would latch onto them. It doesn’t make much sense, IMO, to create a 50-50 situation constantly.

    Also, I was disappointed in what little I saw of Terrence Boyd last night. It wasn’t much of a look, but he didn’t work very hard off the ball from what I saw. That is a problem overall. Too many times we had two or three guys level with their back line just waiting for the perfect through ball. There were very few diagonal runs. Just vertical ones that were easily caught offside.

    • Agreed. The Belgians would swarm our players while too many of American players would be far away from each other when in possession. No small triangles, quick passes, etc. Definitely no diagonal runs, just predictable vertical.

    • Boyd looked out of position all the time and horribly missing possession on that clearance led directly to a goal. He’s got potential but he didn’t look good in limited minutes last night. Gold Cup him for experience.

      • Boyd was being played out of position and shouldn’t even be back on a corner, my two cents.

  28. Belgium was a perfect test to see who should be involved as options or not. Sacha just gave it way too many times. Happy for his great club season, but he is just too inconsistent at the national level. Davis is great in MLS but just does not possess the speed for national team play either. Stinks because the guy is one of my favorites in MLS. Goodson is just too slow also even if he can be an aerial presence. Hopefully Cameron or Besler can be that other centerback, as Cameron isn’t cut out for right back at the national level. But we’re stuck with that until Chandler or Cherundulo are healthy and 100%. On the positive, great to see Holden get some time. He still has a ways to go but the guy’s determination to not let his injuries get him down is incredible. Loved seeing Jones used more as the defensive midfielder as he excels there at Schalke. This was definitely the game to test depth as Johnson, Gomez, and Bradley should be available for Germany. The guys needed rest. I can remember last year with the starters playing too much during the friendlies before qualifiers, and just seemed to have dead legs. Wiser move by Klinsmann. Hope it pays off for the qualifiers.

    • Holden may have been the only truly positive story of the night. Although I do enjoy watching Beasley compete, if everyone out their had his attitude we would do alright.

      Holden just has a clean feel about him with every touch. He has to work his way back into the national team. Put him in center of the game, he will put his stamp on the game and feed those around him. I can’t wait for him to regain fitness. We’ve missed him the last couple years.

  29. Where are all the commentators who prop Jozy up? Or that clamour for Kljestan as the creative spark that Klinsmann allegedly cannot see. You rag on the coach all day long, but I see none of you hear acknowledging that he was right to distrust those players. They ubderperform and its still Klinsmann this and Klinsmann that.

    I don’t fault Brad Davis one iota. The reality is that he is going from marking MLS wingers to marking players like Lukaku. He was going to struggle.

    Top EPL defenders struggle with the attacking players we played last night. Omar Gonzalez is much more worrying as his mistakes are becoming too numerous to ignore and they are brain lapses.

    Jozy was pulled because he was exhausted and choked on the chances that were set up on a platter for him including a ball within the 6.

    Otherwise the game wasn’t too bad. When a mid level team loses to Spain the fans don’t scream for the coach. They are smart enough to understand that they simply aren’t on that level.

    We lost to one of the top 10 best teams who are undefeated through half of European qualifying

    • Omar’s quotes make me thing of Sir Bobby Robson after playing Cameroon at the ’90 WC:
      “We didn’t underestimate them. They were just a lot better than we thought.”

      Omar basically says, yeah, it’s harder at this level than I thought it was. I’m pretty concerned, between Honduras and last night. Sure, he put in a good shift against Mexico, but these defensive lapses speak of a lack of focus/a lack of respect for the opponent/game. Cameron didn’t cover himself in glory either. We really need some leadership back there. We need our captain to be returned from exile. Although he doesn’t have the match fitness of the young players, he can mentor them into pulling their head our of their a r s e and focusing in the moment.

      • I think we can all agree that he has the tools to be a top flight centerback, but he seems to lack the eyes in the back of the head quality of top flight awareness.

        Idk how much an older guy might help with that. He’s got to realize that the better teams will push him to make mistakes like that. No shame on putting that ball into row z if you so much as think there could be another attacker there.

      • This makes me wonder whether instead of freezing out a good man and strong leader like Boca, as Klinsmann is doing, whether it might have been wiser to have been slowly integrating the young CBs into the team under the guidance of Boca. Basically, Klinsmann went from Boca-Goodson to the young guys. I thought Klinsmann’s line a few months ago, about throwing the young CBs into the deep end was ridiculous. And I think the way he is now handling some of the veterans of the USMNT is not cool, at all, and is highly counter productive. I am not saying we don’t need a changing of the guard at some point, but there is a right way to do it and a wrong way and think Klinsmann is failing at at–big time.

      • Klinsmann isn’t failing at anything. Omar Gonzalez was always going to struggle against two of the top strikers in the world.

        Sunil Gulati failed at not allowing Coach Klinsmann the full cycle. It’s easy to forget that the Gold Cup and that entire group of friendlies should have been the start of Klinsmann’s time as a coach to find new players and implement a system.

        Instead, we wound up with Bradley having his contract invalidated a quarter of the way through the next cycle, and Klinsmann was forced to implement the changes he was hired to make during qualifying.

      • Where is this time? He’s had a handful of FIFA dates to really bring players in and has had to deal with a large rash of major injuries.

      • Tell me this you’re an older player 33 and you still in your mind think you can play at the highest level. Yet the last game you played against brazil you were continually beaten. The coaches come to you and basically say you done great service but now step aside and mentor the younger guys. As a professional you still think you can play do you accept this role? I do you say eff that I’m here to play I’ll coach later!

      • “The coaches come to you and basically say you done great service but now step aside and mentor the younger guys. As a professional you still think you can play do you accept this role?”

        um, hell yes. and boca seems like a great guy; like to think he would do the same.

    • I will say that one positive, IMO, was the tenacious midfield defense of the USMNT during stretches of the first half. There were several times when Belgium was forced to pass the ball back and forth at the back and finally got frustrated and booted long balls forward that ended up as nothing. That said, yes, there were times they slipped through the midfield like a hot knife through butter.

      And Zusi’s defense in the first half also was impressive. Unfortunately, on a few of those occasions he had to switch to defense after losing the ball.

      • I agree on the tenacious midfield defense during the latter part of the first half. Jones, DMB, Zusi, etc. were all making good challenges on the ball and limiting Belgiums attacking options. Anyone know possession in the first half? Couldn’t have been that one-sided…

        If you look at their goals, they all started with “errors” on our defense. Belgium is no doubt in a class above us, but I think the 4 goals were more of a result of our miscues. Give them credit though, we made mistakes, and they made us pay.

    • Jozzy had a chance setup on a plater for him really? I don’t know if I call his one chance set up on a plater. But your right would should not get bent out of shape over the game we are just not that good

    • You’re really grasping at straws here with the Kljestan thing, nobody, literally no one, has ever tried to claim Kljestan was our missing creative spark. People just (rightly) believe he has earned a spot on the team. Some of you guys will read “Kljestan has earned the opportunity” and twist it as if we are saying “Kljestan is the answer to all our questions”. Get a grip.

      • I’ve seen a fair number of comments from people saying we need a creative midfielder to start and Kljestan was offered up as the example.

      • “You’re really grasping at straws here with the Kljestan thing, nobody, literally no one, has ever tried to claim Kljestan was our missing creative spark” -Ed

        “I’ve seen a fair number of comments from people saying we need a creative midfielder to start and Kljestan was offered up as the example.”-SanFran415

        This is precisely right, SanFran415.

        They may not have reflected your opinion, Ed, but people addressing this are responding to a fair share of comments that, in fact, believed he would be that “missing creative spark”.

      • Never said SK was the answer but heck we need some spark any spark. I’m willing at this point to throw any one out there. SK got his chance, I think he deserved it he blew it, JK might give him him a second chance. But who is going to create that spark? Who? Do we have anyone? Is JK afraid to call in a younger unexperianced player? Remeber what runDMB and LD did in 2002.

      • Earned a spot? With what? Kljestan on a good day looks like he’s going through the motions and running around aimlessly. There are too many other options that have some sort of a higher speed, technique, danger upside. He’s like mediocrity personified, him and Evans.

        To be on the team you need to ADD something. What does he add besides an unexceptional ability to receive and then make passes? Solid pro, nothing more.

      • Well he did win the bulguim league twice. Just cause you don’t like him does not mean that he didn’t deserve a shot. He got his shot and didn’t perform. Now it is up to the infallible Klinsman to rate him. Maybe he is just a great club player but nothing international, there are thos types. But to say he did nothing is foolish.

      • “He” does not win the Belgian league. A team he plays for did. Lalas used to play in the Serie A, doesn’t mean he was worth a hoot.

        He is not some random guy who got a first chance based on Anderlecht, there is a whole history of blah performances dating back to Chivas upon which to evaluate him. He gets chance after chance dating back to Bradley. He generally does squat when given his chance. Other players like Wondo and Adu, who show up mediocre and disappear like this, get flushed. I don’t see how he’s special other than favoritism based on the hope that Anderlecht means he’s changed. ‘Cept he hasn’t.

        I recall one game where he played well in Camp Cupcake where the opponent barely looked like they cared and sent like a C side. That’s it. This is an all star team with other options, not an entitlement.

        Sacha had a grand total of 3 goals in 34 games for Anderlecht. I think his value is over-stated. And if he is not a productive attacker, we have plenty of people who handle their specific end of the division of labor — CAM or DM — better than he supposedly handles two ways.

      • I don’t know what other options you are talking about. Look, I think it’s clear that our backup central mids are all just a spinning carousel of mediocrity.

      • See his advocates try and water it down into some “central midfield” soup where he’s supposed to somehow stand out going two ways. But I think Corona, Mixx, Bradley, Holden, Davis, Benny, and Bedoya can all play CAM better, and he’d be behind Jones, Edu, Beckerman, and Morales (and Alonso if he got his switch through) in terms of people I’d use at DM. As a wing, I’d prefer Dempsey, Donovan, Shea, Gatt, Agudelo, Holden, etc.

    • Just FYI, you don’t really need to “prop up” Jozy. He just scored 38 goals in Europe, which is, by far, the best performance by an American forward in U.S. history. It amused me to hear Taylor Twellman criticize him last night. When I want to make myself angry I just watch Twellman trying to score goals for the national team. That would be 6 goals in 30 appearances. Jozy’s scored 13 and he’s 23. I think we should all just ease up on the kid.

      And bring back Donovan! Like I care whether he’s “found himself” or not. He’s exponentially more talented than either Zusi, Davis, or Klejstan.

      • @Braden: Jozy has scored 13 goals in 55 games, including a hat trick against powerhouse Trinidad and Tobago. Jozy now has an average of 0.23 goals per game. Taylor Twellman scored six goals in 30 games. His average is now 0.20 goals per game. Not much difference between the two.

        In any case, Twellman is commentator now and he is paid to give his opinion. I will now confess: I generally like his commentary. IMO he is much less irritating than two other guys who were commenting last night.

      • The stat that should give people pause is EJ has 14 goals in 48 caps, including several qualifying goals. Jozy, in contrast, has 13 goals in 56 caps. EJ is even more of a mess than Jozy in terms of skills, but works harder and is more productive.

        This whole year has been an exercise in giving Jozy chances to show AZ means something. But his last goal in the shirt was November 2011 in that odd foggy Slovenia game. Hiz AZ performance may be a ticket into camp over and over but on USA performance he should be off the bench at best.

      • +1 And Jozy’s November 2011 goal was a PK, his last goal in the run of play was June 2011, meaning were a days fromthe 2-year anniversary. I keep wondering why Klinsmann does not sit Jozy and give EJ and/or Herc Gomez a shot up top as lone forward, instead of playing them as wingers.

      • Based on current personnel it should be Gomez and Dempsey up top, technical guys with some athleticism, who can try and maintain possession, and will likely finish the chances given. Jozy off the bench when you need a big body late.

  30. So, looking at Davis’ comments, I have a question…

    Klinsmann has talked on and on and on about taking players out of their comfort zones, making them understand the import of each game, rising to the occasion, etc. And yet the things Davis is saying Klinsmann said to him are all about making him more comfortable, reducing stress, etc. Not saying I necessarily agree with taking the same approach to every player at this level, but it just really seems contradictory.

    On the rest of the game, just an atrocious 90 minutes, and a particularly bad last 45. Belgium is a very, very good team, and we were always going to struggle, but come on. I’ll say this, too: for a coach apparently so focused on fitness, we sure look terrible fitness-wise, at least compared to Bradley’s tenure. Why didn’t we keep the French guy (his name escapes me) as our fitness coach when Klinsmann came on? He was working wonders.

    • This is what I’ve been saying for a long time. The US team was always known before its fitness. With Klinsmann, we don’t even have that advantage any more. You can draw two conclusions from this: the logical one — Klinsmann is not much of a fitness expert; and the illogical one — it’s all players’ fault.

      • Klinsi isn’t a fitness expert. Neither was Bradley or Arena. Luckily the USSF is rich enough to hire experts, world class ones. Klinsi has his own ideas about fitness from his playing days and his connections in Europe. But he’s not there making detailed reports on his players.

      • Or you can draw the right conclusion which is that players and teams all over the world put far more emphasis on fitness than they used to, thus eroding the USMNT’s competive advantage.

      • It’s not about the other teams. It’s about our own fitness level. How many times under Bradley did we look tired at the end of games? How many times did players after the game ADMIT TO THE PRESS that they were tired during the game?

    • We played a different style under Bradley that didn’t require as much fitness to execute. We were very much a defend and counter team with our back line and midfield line pretty compact and playing back. You don’t have to have as much ball pressure when playing like that which means you’re saving gas for counters and defending later in the game. JK has us playing with a high line and that requires consistent ball pressure in the midfield to ensure the other team’s creative passers don’t have time to pick out a perfect through ball and let people run in behind us (exactly what happened on Belgiums 4th goal if I recall and I think Twellman even pointed out the lack of pressure). Keeping up that pressure eats up more energy and leaves us gassed if we can’t maintain possession for decent stretches. You could argue against opponents that clearly outmatch us we shouldn’t be using that strategy but I have to admit I do like seeing us making an effort to test ourselves in friendlies where results shouldn’t matter.

  31. Ke$ha sums up the USMNT perfectly: “We R Who We R”

    Uh.. at least that’s what the kids tell me…. something like that.

  32. Klinsman is caught in a situation where the style he wants doesn’t match with the talent he has. We can’t play a high back line with slow central defenders who don’t react well and poor overall possession skills. We can’t attack consistently when our best mids are of the holding variety and we don’t run well off the ball. We can’t play with a single striker when that striker works best with another. We can’t play wide with no threatening wingers. We can’t run the offense through our best offensive player (Dempsey) because that is not what he excels at. I am all in favor of Klinsman’s goals for the program. But this should be a defensive-minded team playing a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-1-2, absorbing pressure and hitting on the counter and being opportunistic. Jozy doesn’t need service as much as he needs space and someone to play off of. He isn’t getting that now. The backline isn’t being helped any by playing a high line that negates the job of the central mids, who get passed right through. And if you are going to play with 6 defensive minded players, you might as well play them so they don’t give up 4 goals.

    • now this is a great comment.

      “Klinsman is caught in a situation where the style he wants doesn’t match with the talent he has.”

      nailed it.

    • This pretty much sums up everything perfectly. Klinnsman is trying to force this team into something it’s not. I’m all for recreating the youth system and trying to encourage more attacking play, but at the senior level you have to work with what you’ve got (you can’t teach old dogs new tricks). In this respect, Bob Bradley excelled far beyond Klinnsman. He put players in their best position to succeed and understood what kind of support each player required on the field. He designed a system that exploited players’ strengths, and minimized their weaknesses. Klinnsman seems to be doing the opposite. He seems to be putting players in situations where their weaknesses are exploited and their strengths are minimized.

  33. The drop off from Bradley to the rest of our pool in the midfield is sad.

    Kljestan and his supporters should quiet down. He’s not the answer, never was the answer and never will be the answer. His most useful position is deep on the bench.

    This match didn’t reveal anything other than confirmation of that fact. I suppose that’s a plus?

    • “The drop off from Bradley to the rest of our pool in the midfield is sad.”

      +1, was painfully evident last night.

      Kljestan let me down and now its my turn to quiet down.

      • I respect that, JC, as most usually don’t after debating/arguing (not surprisingly, they will not respond to this or likely the actual thread).

        My last “hope” is Holden. After that, I think we’re going to be dependent on the next wave of talent in the future with the u-20’s/u-23’s or below…and that may be post-Brazil.


      • It may sound ridiculous but what about Freddy Adu? It seems we lack that player who thinks outside the box. The one totally creative player that this team needs! I know he lacks hustle and doesn’t play defense but hell we need someone to create a chance or two!!

      • Well, Kljestan didn’t add a defensive element either, so that can’t really be an excuse not to use Adu.

        Adu is like that hot girl with a sh*t personality and annoying voice. She’s nice to look at but as soon as opens her mouth and attempts to have a conversation, you realize anything long term is pointless.

        I think a lot of us would love for Adu to make an impact but there are so many reasons why it hasn’t, I’m not sure he’s an option anymore (or with our next NT manager).

        He has the ability…just has an annoying voice/personality.

      • Freddy Adu likes to try homerun passes but at the highest level gets neither the time nor the space to tee up. So what he becomes is a turnover machine who is not fast, a hard worker, a tough defender, or some other redeeming virtue for the turnovers.

      • this comment’s kind of funny, because adu pretty clearly performs better at the international level than he does for his club-of-the-moment.

      • 17 games, 2 goals, Guate, Grenada. Better internationally? I see it more like Kljestan, someone at the senior level elevated beyond actual performance based on reputation.

        To me, you’re talking about someone who although just breaking into senior age officially, has been playing professionally nearly a decade. He’s had every opportunity and has been fast-tracked at an early age. I think he’s plateaued already and that his youth performances are misleading because it’s almost like a man out there with boys… put him out there with men at a level higher than Gold Cup and you see what happens.

        Don’t get me wrong, if he dropped his salary he’d be a solid role midfielder in the pros like Nguyen. But the problem is he wants to command Willie Mays’ role and salary on Willie Mays Hayes’ performance.

      • mr. voice,

        he’s played on the men’s team against the best teams in the world, and looked good doing it.

        and he’s not a striker, so i’m not sure why you’re going by how many goals he’s scored.

      • welp, only took less than 12 hours for someone to bring out the anointing oil for Adu.

        Frankly I’m surprised it took this long, the surest thing you can count on after a usmnt loss is the calls for Adu to save the usmnt.

    • Not a single Kljestan supporter (myself included) thinks he should start for the USMNT. His role is MBs backup so I don’t see what the big deal is. His performance tonight was pretty much identical to how he plays for Anderlecht. Also he didn’t play poorly, looked to me he did exactly what he was supposed to do, ping the ball around, try and control tempo and bust up Belgium attacks. Serviceable performance against a clearly superior opponent.

      • Every Kljestan supporter certainly gave the impression we’d see more than someone who made zero impact, due to his performances at Anderlecht.

        Has he added anything to his game? Perhaps. I didn’t see anything though, so I guess the positive is he hasn’t regressed?

        Unfortunately, we don’t know what his true responsibility was as given by the coaching staff. What we do know? He added nothing to the team and made zero impact. At this point, I don’t know how anyone can say he’s locked a place on the roster for Brazil…so I disagree with the “serviceable” statement.

        What we do know: he contributed no defense (Jones did ALL of the dirty work, again…), some meaningless one/two’s, errant lead passes that connected with no one, and was literally hit on two occasions by stepping in the passing lane and taking a ball to the leg, resulting in a turnover.

        …but hey, at least he put his kit on correctly.

      • I could go down the line to every single player that played last night and pick out a few spots where they screwed up. Same with “making zero impact”, you could say that about Dempsey last night. You raise an important point though where I agree, that Kljestan doesn’t seem to have added much to his game. Step back though, I mean Kljestan really is competing with Danny Williams, Beckerman, Torres, and probably someone else I’m forgetting for “backup d-mid spot”. You can’t say that Kljestan hadn’t at least earned the opportunity given to him last night.

      • “I could go down the line to every single player that played last night and pick out a few spots where they screwed up.”

        You absolutely could and you would not be wrong in doing so.

        However, you should also include a category for people that disappeared last night/made no impact but have in previous matches.

        Kljestian would not be in that category, outside of a game versus Sweden in what seems like 10 years ago.

      • “You can’t say that Kljestan hadn’t at least earned the opportunity given to him last night.”

        You’re absolutely right on that as well.

        My opinion was that he wasn’t deserving because I knew he’d add nothing and it’s responsible for us to kick the tires on all players in the pool.

        However, he simply confirmed what I had said before the game.

      • That’s fair, but do you think that Kljestan played himself down the depth chart below Edu, Torres, Beckerman? I’m not so sure.

      • To be honest, I don’t consider them to play the same roles.

        Edu/Beckerman are usually destroyers meant to break up the middle, not really distribute. I don’t consider Kljestan for that same role.

        However, I’d pick Kljestan over the likes of Edu in a heartbeat. I think Edu is incredibly careless with the ball.

        I haven’t seen enough of Torres to consider him in the conversation. I actually liked his game, but never felt like we properly used him. However, like Kljestan, he didn’t make the most of his opportunities and that’s his own fault.

  34. Takeaways from last nights game…

    – It will be a long time before we have the technical ability of the top countries, but we can still compete (somewhat) as long as we don’t make ridiculous turnovers. Lots of learning moments last night for some players

    – JK opened up the attack a little bit and had backs going forward more than in any WCQ. DMB and Cam (even Evans) were pushing forward more than I’ve previously seen. Ended up backfiring but at least it was the right game to try a few things.

    – IF we were a possession team, Davis would be useful providing service, but against the quality of Belgium, I thought he looked out classed

    – Sacha and JJ looked didn’t look comfortable with one another. Thought JJ put in incredible effort disrupting their attack.

    – DMB has still got it. I think he’s going to be dangerous to bring on as a sub on the wing. We need a healthy back 4 so we can use him out wide. Given the current squad, he was the best option at LB and played a great game

  35. How can we expect to create any goal scoring chances when we have no creativity. Our off the ball movement is terrible we don’t have anyone that will attack a defence by dribbling at then and we don’t have any wing play. Their is a reason why Jozzy doesn’t score any goals for the US. No service. Our defence struggles we have good defensive mids but we have no attacking ability. I feel bad for players like Jozzy and Bradley.

    • no, but didn’t you see? jozy did get a chance last night! and at the international level, according to klinsmann, one chance is all you get.

      • Jozy had one chance early in the box and the announcer made it seem like he blew a tap in. Luluka on the other hand had like 6-8 chances and did no better, although you would have though the scored 4 goals listening to the commentators.
        We all know Luluka is a great talent, but his repeated missed opportunities were followed by fanboy “ball washing” while Jozy’s miss was viewed as a complete failure.

        The game went as it probably should have considering the quality of the two teams and their respected line ups.

      • haha. People have heard “OMG Lukaku Chelsea baby Drogba BEAST” repeated enough that they can’t comment anything else.

        Dude is strong and good, yes, but should be called out for missing chances like anyone else.

    • I think the 451 and lack of wing speed is why Jozy isn’t getting service. For us he tends to score playing garbage man but for that to happen we have to get the ball deep and wide and it’s not happening. If you want to see Jozy play well, he needs a 442 and some fast people like Landon and Gatt who can get the ball deep, fast, and cross into the 6.

      But the current formation expects him to not finish goals facing the net but play back to the goal and link up, and despite his build I don’t think he has the skill set for playing target with people draped over him in the middle. He’s better off wide isolated against defenders.

  36. at the point that you are playing a very narrow midfield with a guy like Brad Davis on the left side of it, why not put Dempsey there and give Jozy some support in the form of Gomez or Boyd? That is a place on the field where Clint excels, and Jozy seems to be more effective with another striker running off of him. Klinsmann keeps trying to put square pegs in round holes, and it is maddening.

  37. I give a lot of credit to JK for scheduling two very tough friendlies before restarting WCQ, and seeing how some of the fringe players handle the pressure and quality of this opponent. The US team had very little preparation and practice before this game, which resulted in a lack of team cohesion, so the results were what I expected. I’d much rather work out the issues in these tough friendlies as opposed to jumping right to WCQ. I recall the US playing a friendly game against Spain around this same time a couple of years ago, with the same expectations and same result.

    The player in my eyes who may have benefited the most in this game may have been Holden. He got to mix it up with his US teammates in a meaningless friendly for the first time in ages, which has to be a confidence boost. I’m hoping he gets more minutes on Sunday.

    Davis and Evans are not going to be regulars for WCQ. This is not a surprise. I think once F. Johnson and Bradley return, and possibly LD, they’re headed to the Gold Cup.

    Gonzales is still getting his initiation to play at the international level. I’m sure he’s never played against a quality offense like Belgium before. This was a good learning experience for him, and I think he’ll only build on this game, and continue to get better.

    I felt another player who stock fell in this game was Goodson. I sense Besler may soon be passing him on the depth chart.

    Kljestan did as best he could under the circumstances against a quality opponent. He did not have the benefit of having wingers with skill and pace for distribution, which limited his options. I think his biggest issue is he is more of a liability on defense in comparison to other players in the pool.

    I still have no idea what happened with Altidore. I’m assuming it was pre-planned to split time with Johnson and Boyd, but unsure. However, I didn’t think Johnson or Boyd was a noticeable improvement over Altidore.

    • Great, rational comment 😀

      Post-game interview said that there was no plan to pull Jozy at half–he was too tired to continue playing.

    • Credit? I think his ego is run amok because as the announcers said, I don’t know what two tail-kickings by Belgium and Germany will prepare us for.

    • It would have been better to play teams closer to what we’ll play in qualifying. The gap between our sides was too large to be very useful.

  38. I don’t want to be a complainer. I honest to gosh don’t. But I am worried and there is a lot to complain about here and most of the complaints point in the same direction: Toward Jurgen Klinsmann and his assistant Martin Vasquez. I am starting to truly feel sorry for the players having to endure, what in my mind, is turning into a complete mess of no strategy, uncertainty on the field and of players played out of position, as if JK can wave his wand and players will magically transform from wingers to fullbacks or from forwards/central midfielders to wingers. I honestly would not be surprised to see Klinsmann sometime get the bright idea to try Tim Howard out as a central defender, if not an attacking midfielder.

  39. Just to be clear…I think everyone needs to step back from the ledge. Was it a good performance? No. But look who the opponent was! Gonzalez was making his 7th or 8th appearance and he faces that attack…what do you think would happen? I think we need to see who we are as a soccer playing playing nation…we are developing and will be for years to come. Until we are producing a player like Hazard and Benteke, this is what we should expect and frankly, there is nothing wrong with that. Lets all enjoy the ride up because when the US gets there and the expectations rise, we will look back at these years with fond memories because we knew things were only going to get better. Just ask England what that is like?

    • Disagree that ever player was bad, but a lot of them did not look good and, yes, you are right DC Josh, the overall impression was of a poorly coached team.

      • I actually don’t blame the coaching. Half of those goals were caused by essentially a national team player rookie – Gonzo. It’s not Klinsi’ fault there.

        The last goal was Boyd’s fault for absolutely shanking the ball when he needed to blast it up top.

        The goals are fixable. I thought we actually competed against Belgium and the scoreline was skewed. If Jozy puts away the three chances he had, we could be talking about a different game. We’re still finding our backline and against a team like Belgium, it’s expected that we’ll be tested.

        It’s also worth noting that thus far in qualifying, no team has scored more than one goal against Belgium. We scored two.

      • Also: I think you look at the first half as the only half you can really judge. The second half of a friendly always turns into mayhem just due to the amount of substitutions. That doesn’t reflect Klinsi’s inability to coach, so much as it reflect’s Klinsi’s want to see his players out there and running around.

      • I’m not a huge fan of Klinsy but I think he got it right this game. This is a game to see how players play not about the result. This was about who will be seeing the bench if we make it to Brazil. Who can cover for hurt CB ect. Plus those less experianced guys need these games badly.

      • Although, DCJosh has a point, how many games have we played where almost none of the players had a good night? Is this Klinsman’s fault? Is it a lack of chemistry? Is it because we have had so many different line ups? I’m not worried about friendlies cause this is where the coach needs needs to try different things. Hopefully we get it together for qualifiing

    • Exactly what I was thinking, Josh D. When so many players looked slow, out-of-position, unsure of where to pass it, it seems to speak to the coaching preparation, at least in part. I am on record as not being a JK booster so I have my bias but this game certainly seemed to indict the team’s preparation.

      I mean, both sportswriters and fans may disagree on the value of various players but Cameron, Gonzalez, Goodson, Klestjan, Jozy, Dempsey, Zusi, and Davis all have supporters with valid points. They don’t ALL suck. So how is it that game after game, quite a few players cannot seem to make the right pass or be in the right place?

      Just some thoughts.

      • These are professional players. When they’re called up to that level, it’s not up to the coach to show them how to make a simple pass five yards in front of him to a player.

        Most of these guys are still getting used to playing in a system none of them have played in before, especially the MLS guys. Also, those MLS guys are now facing teams twice as fast, twice as big, and twice as smart as those in MLS. For a guy like Gonzo, he has to find his footing. And even someone like Zusi is still trying to learn how to be effective at that pace.

        Those players will continue to struggle until they are playing at that pace game in and out. Donovan was an anomaly, someone who could play in MLS but rev up for the international games. I haven’t seen a US player like that since.

        So those skewed passes and not being at the right place, to me, is a result of not bad coaching, but not being quick enough because they aren’t used to games where you are on your toes the full 90 and you’re expected to perform without the ball at your feet.

    • I felt like the tactics left much to be desired. The one forward approach weakens our attack and ability to possess and move downfield. The high defensive line was repeatedly being exposed for lack of speed and naivete. I agree that particular players did not show well, and needed to have statement games. And Belgium is a pretty good team that was still missing players. But the tactics were less than optimal and contributed to the overall result.

  40. Sorry if missed it from the other post on the match, but what was the deal with Altidore? Did JK say why he lifted him? He certainly deserved it after 45 minutes as a turnover machine.

    • Jozy was awful. But that leaves the question of why? He did not look happy at all and I can’t help but think there is something going on internally. That said, it could be as simple as he is not fit. I thought he looked overweight. But maybe he was ill. Does anyone have any idea why he pulled his jersey off right before a corner kick? That was bizarre. Have never ever seen that before.

      • He plays 90 almost every game in Holland for his club so I doubt he’s out of shape. He’s not a hustle type player like Gomez and struggles as the single forward. I think he would be better suited with another forward like Johnson, but he came on for Davis on the left wing. I don’t think Klindman really knows the strength of his personnel and if there were to forwards, two wingers, and Dempsey playing behind the forwards we’d be better off. I’d put Holden and Donovan out on the wing Dempsey and Bradley centrally for my MF. Altidore and Johnson or Gomez as my strikers. The 4-3-3 isn’t out best formation IMO.

      • i don’t really like eddie johnson, but i would be interested to see if he and jozy work well together.

        despite his looks, jozy isn’t the type of forward you can just float crosses to (hi brad davis!); eddie is, and jozy does work well with someone to play off of.

      • Jozy just has no confidence and doesn’t look like he wants to play for the Nats. It’s due to his goal drought. He hasn’t scored in open play for two years. I honestly cannot think of another international striker who has that streak. It’s absolutely shocking.

        I don’t think we play a 4-3-3 any longer. It looks like a 4-2-3-1 which is what Jozy should be used to, or at least more comfortable with. He doesn’t have a partner at the club level, at least not in the 4-4-2 traditional sense.

        What he does have, and what Dempsey does not offer him, is someone who bombs forward as a shadow striker to offer him support. Dempsey just floats around aimlessly and is not quick to offer him support.

        Our wingers didn’t do much good either, especially Davis. That’s why Jozy kept floating to the left – no one was there. Davis is too slow. That’s his position and it’s his job to play out wide so Jozy can stay around the middle.

      • Can agree with that, and a very strong argument for DaMarcus Beasley at left wing rather than playing him at left back which makes ME WANT TO SCCRRREEEEAAAAAMMMMMM!!!!!! WHY DOES KLINSMANN THE TINKERER INSIST AND PLAYING dmb AT LEFT BACK?

        just askin’?

      • who else would you put at LB?…Parkhurst?

        Holden should be able to start on the wing fairly soon. CM is set with Jones and Bradley

        I’d like Altidore and Johnson to start up top with dempsey right below…Jozy likes to 1-2 at the top of the box and no one can do that with him..

        Cameron is a CB..

      • I find it hard to believe that a guy who just bagged like 30 goals in Europe is lacking confidence. He played poorly and looked frustrated, sure, but I think there’s something wrong behind the scenes.

      • Jozy is confident at the club level, but his confidence is shot at the international. Two games. Two mindsets.

        I have to agree. There is something happening between him and Klinsi. Klinsi punished Jozy a year ago. And Klinsi was a world class striker so he knows what it takes to be one. He’s pushing Jozy and Jozy isn’t reacting favorably to it.

        I don’t believe for a moment Klinsi wants anything but the best for Jozy. I think Klinsi is very disappointed in him and that has caused a rift.

      • Quality as a player has nothing to do at all with quality as a coach. JK has shown he doesn’t know how to handle players. He’s terrible.

      • What Josie needs are teammates who have the vision, skill and mindset to put the ball in a useful place for him more than just occasionally and have the ability to score themselves. There are a couple of guys available who fit the bill. One is the all time leader in scoring and assists for the USMNT, still close to the peak of his powers, but he hasn’t been invited to participate in the crucial qualifiers coming up. The other guy is second in assists and third in scoring among players who are currently active. But he’s been relegated to the back line and was able to show only flashes of what he might do if played on the wing where he belongs. For me, I’d play Beasley and Donovan on the wings with Dempsey as a withdrawn second striker and expect Josie (and Dempsey) to start producing.

        For my money, except for Dempsey and Beasley, Donovan at 80% is better than any of our other attacking players at 100%. And Donovan is at more than 80% right now. The stupid game Klinsmann has been playing regarding Donovan runs a needless risk of the US failing to qualify, even if that risk is not thought to be very great.

    • It tells me all I need to know that the much less gifted EJ has a higher work rate and was more productive last night. He also has a higher scoring rate per cap.

      Jozy to me does not show to the ball enough. He sits there like a center and waits. But even NBA centers, at least the good ones, show to the passer, box out their man.

      I would be interested what he could do on a wing in this formation because he has shown he could play there for Red Bull years ago. I think he’s typecast by his build but like Kenny Cooper is more of a runner than a pivot, despite what he looks like he should play.

      But then the issue would be, we have plenty of technical talent that can play wide….

      • Well stated. Few players for the Nats actually want the ball. In a game at this level, with the type of style played, players need to ask for the ball, show, and advance when possible, ALWAYS. Holden does this, MB does. . . Dempsey identified this in the first half and started showing for the ball, but he really needs others to do this (so does LD, honestly).

        We need more midfielders who want the ball and, then of course there’s execution of a pass, or the ability to relieve pressure. Other players who have shown this ability: Corona – who knows if he can replicate this at the international level, Torres – he’s shown he cannot replicate it at this level. No one else comes to mind. We’re still stuck with mostly a long ball skill set.

      • I mean, if you think back, Russia was two goals off long shots on head-backs off longballs, Costa Rica was a happy deflection in a snow game, Mexico was 0-0, and this was a goal off a deadball and then a cross off a counter. We’ve in recent history been good on the counter with speed, but the Klinsi sales pitch was killing teams with possession passing and that’s not what’s creating chances.

        And I definitely agree with you, we’re just too static and positional in the formation, there’s not enough of a total football approach of playing off each other, overlapping, and taking strict position less seriously. And we kill half the virtue of the static approach by dropping from 442 to 451, because at least teams that do stick to their spots usually have more options via a 442, two forwards to play off, more of a true wing.

        That being said, in the games where I have seen us be more active off the ball, and knock it around, it looked like we struggled for fitness as the game progressed. So it may be part a fitness problem, or maybe the players don’t bother because they feel like the running necessary to make a Klinsi system work for 90 minutes is beyond their physical abilities.

        In any case, I don’t think we’re moving off the ball enough, I agree, and Jozy is exhibit A.

  41. “contenders come up short”… least they have an excuse….how about the “lack luster” Dempsey, Altidore, Jones, Zusi, our veterans….did they have shorts on goal or caused problems for the Belgium Defense or took on players or dribbled into the box? The answer is no….this is not a blaming game because I don’t know how anyone would expect to win against a stacked team like Belgium when the US are short handed for one and usually struggle against the minnows of CONCACAF at full strength……If Sasha and Davis don’t deserve to be on the team because of this game, so does a lot of our “starters”, because truth be told the only players that showed up and stood their ground were Howard and Beasley……

    • I commend Beasley on his effort. He’s one of the few players that hussels the entire game and acts like he wants to be there. Unfortunately, we could utilize that kind of tenacity and speed on our wings, where it’s sorely needed.

    • bizzy, i was thinking the same thing: sure, the new guys came up short, but i thought dempsey was awful, and jones was well below par.

      and i can’t understand how some people are saying that beasley showed well at LB last night. his 1-on-1 defending was good, but his positioning was abysmal, which kills us when we play a high line. i thought, if anything, he showed why he’s a great option as a LW: his attacking was one of the only good things i saw last night.

      • Yeah but you can’t blame Beasley, blame the coach who making him play a position that got him kick out of the USNMT by Bob Bradley in the first place. I hate this coaches that keep playing players out the position were they are stronger. Beasley played with Donovan always left. that is Left midfield or left wing and Donovan was on the right. But at least Beasley Hustle as for Dempsey he want to do too much and end up getting lost. Altidore I think he is out of the USNMT after the second half he did not came out of the dressing room. He look like he did not want it to play, did not hustled did look for the ball got lost in the left wing at some time and he even didn’t score on the only chance he had. I think he probably got into some word with Dempsey and Klissman and he just told them off.

      • i would absolutely blame the coach if he keeps beasley there in place of fabian or castillo. it’s not beasley’s fault he’s not a great LB–he’s doing all he can.

      • None of us has any idea where Jozy went at half time. so until we know for sure, it does little good to speculate

    • You put Jones into the “lack luster” category. Jones was the ONLY player out there hussling the full 90 minutes, doing what Klinsi wanted – closing space, and doing his best to spark forward momentum with forward passes. Kljestan and Dempsey whose job it was to create were either passing backwards or holding the ball too long and getting it taken off them.

      Jones picked up their slack, and you can see how much faster he reacts. He’d get the ball and immediately find players out wide or look for the one-two. He even tried dribbling up the field with it. You saw that he was more disciplined than in recent games. I assume that was Klinsi telling him to protect the backline – and given the midfield they had, that was smart.

      Jones was by far our best player and led the team even without the armband.

      • at least for this game, “best player” and “lack luster” aren’t really mutually exclusive.

        jones wasn’t horrible, but he was really sloppy. he’s not a metronome-type of player (that klestjan was supposed to be), and i think he felt he had to do that last night, since klestjan wasn’t able to. he’s just not good at it.

      • Jones also didn’t look outclassed unlike most of the team. That is the difference between someone who plays for a CL team and the good ol MLS.

      • completely agree…Jones was responsible for numerous breakups for belgian counterattacks and when he got the ball he played beautiful balls out wide. Those things go unnoticed when we dont have any players that can do anything with it

      • I thought he was sloppy and for a guys as central to the team as possible, was invisible most of the night. I was perhaps more disappointed with Jones than any other player (okay Cameron was pretty bad at times too). He had a few touches and breakups but he didn’t have the affect I’d like to see.

      • Jones isn’t a creator and when he’s the one attempting to push the ball forward, you have problem.. Jones’ is a close down player that should sit behind a creator and protect the D.

        Bradley’s creating is getting better thus the combination is beginning to work better.

        But last night exposed his limitation – which is ironic in that he was still better than anyone else on the field at creating.

    • Agreed. Nice piece. I’d actually throw Jozy’s name into that list too. He needed to prove he deserves a start at the international level, and again he was found wanting. He won’t start against Germany.

      My top three players whose stock went down:
      – Jozy’s – Didn’t score. Couldn’t control the ball. Couldn’t do the simple things. No effort.
      – Kljestan’s – He did better than I thought. But Jones completely out shown him and he wasn’t better than Bradley. Little creativity when that’s what we needed. He didn’t earn another start.
      – Goodson’s – Gonzo is the easy one here. But Goodson is the veteran and he needed to cement a spot alongside Gonzo. He didn’t. By default then, Besler’s stock rose.

      I also think Dempsey had a horrendous second half. He literally disappeared almost the entire time. If we’re throwing stones at Jozy, let’s not excuse Dempsey. If Dempsey is playing in the center of our attacking three midfielders, he must find the game. He didn’t.

      With Jozy struggling and Boyd looking even worse, I’d like to see Dempsey start up top as our striker and find someone else to play his creative central role. With the squad we have now, I’d give it to Corona or Zusi against Germany. Long term I hope we look at Mix or Holden continues improving.

      • The number of chances Jozy had could be counted on one hand. And should he do better, yes, but look at Belgium’s back four. Those are four incredibly complete defenders. he needs other players attacking with him. he needs a midfielder to run off of.

      • +1000000 some people are clueless when it comes to our team. Like either they don’t pay attention or worse they don’t know what they are looking at in the first place.

      • For some reason people think Jozy getting the ball on the left touch line is him getting service.

      • I find myself thinking about other options too as Boyd just doesn’t have touch on the ball, and Eddie is quick but not our answer at striker. For years now we’ve continued to pray and hope that Altidore turns it on for the us. Bob Bradely’s answer was always to move Dempsey up top when he needed a goal. Dempsey might be a better striker answer at this point. However, the best world would be for us to find some wingers who break down the defense on the side lines and provide Altidore with the service he needs.

  42. Poor wing support between Davis and Zusi and poor defense by Gonzalez and Goodson were expected. Starting two of the best MLS playmakers just isn’t enough at the international level. Zusi doesn’t offered anything other than effort, but more is needed from the RW to create for our forwards. Starting two CBs with the same qualities was a poor decision from the start. Moving forward I would like to see a Cameron-Besler tandem because both Gonzalez and Goodson are prone to headscratching plays.

    • Seeing the lineup with Goodson and Gonzalez together it was obvious that it was going to be a long night to me. There is little chance that those guys would be able to handle the pace and power of Lukaku and Benteke. It’s like Jurgen just looked at the size of Lukaku and thought he’d throw on two big defenders. Too bad Lukaku (if you watched him in the Premier League) is more deadly with the ball at his feet and making quality runs.

      • I think it is becoming painfully apparent to me, that the either Klinsmann or his asst coaches need to go. Martin Vasquez is not up to the job, the strategy for the US team is nowhere to be found and it looks like the USMNT is in a dark place with the only light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train.

        The US has more talent than it ever has, but poor tactics and strategy have the US team in a poorer position thab it was before JK took over.

        For the UMPTEENTH time JK put Altidore upfront as a lone striker, and for the UMPTEENTH time Altidore had a poor game. This is JK’s fault not JA’s

        Altidore does not play well alone up top. His 30+ goals this season in the Dutch league came with a three man strike combo upfront.

        When you have your left and right backs going forward, your midfielder MUST cover the wings, other wise there is too much uncovered service into the box, putting you centerbaclks into bad positions. Time and time again we saw Cameron and Beasley too far forward forcing Zusi to try and cover the Belgian wingers, who usually got their crosses off into the box butting tremendous pressure on Gonzales and Goodson. There was just too much work for some players to do and led to breakdowns in coverage.This was not really the fault of the players, but in tactics by the coaching staff.

        If you play with a withdrawn forward, you must have the player with discipline to play farther forward and not track back for defensive purposes or just to get touches on the ball. It strand your lone forward with absolutely no one to play off of. Clint Dempsey is a natural roamer and poacher, he also help in defense. He is not the player you want in support of your lone forward as he tend to drift into midfield forcing JA to follow. Again this is simple soccer tactics.

        There was a real beef against JK in the soccer journals in the rehash of his stint as manager, most pundits gave far more credit to Lowe, JK assistant coach in setting up the offense and defense tactics and strategy of the German team, while JK role was that of chief motivator.

        If that the case we need a real ssistant coach pretty soon.

      • The coaching is subpar but I’d disagree on the best ever talent part. Outside of Howard, Guzan, Dempsey, and Jones the remainder of the US squad isn’t Premier league calibre. Reyna and Donovan are the two greatest US players in the modern era.

        What’s shocking is the utter lack of creativity. The best comparison for this team is a poor man’s version of Stoke.

        What the USSF needs to do is get new leadership and spend time watching what the Germans, Italians, Spanish etc do in terms of their youth development.

        While Bradley and Are as were reviled for their stifling style of play they got the most of what they could with the talent they had.

        Klingsman is trying to have the US play a style that requires high levels of talent and skill when more often than not the US is at a talent disadvantage in most of their matches.

        The US needs to get the youth involved instead of trying to find the magic formula with retreads.

        Of course it might help if there was a cohesive system.

    • Does anyone else feel that at no point do we ever have our best 11 players on the field? I realize that who the best 11 are is open to opinion, but I for one just feel like we are always missing guys. I know last night was a friendly, but I am talking in general.

      • I honestly don’t think we’ve fielded a complete or almost complete (best) starting 11 the entire cycle. We’ve had at least 3-4 starters injured/unavailable every time. This makes our lack of depth painfully obvious as the drop-off in quality is significant. Not sure what can be done except what is being done: blood the next generation (and take some beatings) to hopefully get them improving and cross fingers all the important players are healthy/available next summer (assuming we qualify).

      • totally agree with you. I can complain about sasha all I want, but there wasn’t really a better option available. We will need all hands on deck come world cup or it won’t be pretty.

      • He will play others on Sunday that didnt play today. These friendlies are to pick a squad for the qualifiers. Yes Bradley and Fabian will play but so will Parkhurst. He didnt bring him to camp for nothing and after Cameron’s stinker… I think MP will start

    • Goodson to me was the joke. Gonzo obviously flubs the dribble trying to clear, creates the problem. But he was already diving in to fix an issue, the guy was making a run into the box. And when Gonzo flubs his dribble, Goodson stops running and leaves the man in the middle wide open with 5 yards’ space.

      Now, there were some more generalized backline issues but I think they dealt with playing a high line offside trap with a relatively slow bunch of defenders. Belgium was repeatedly just rolling the ball into the space behind us and running onto it. The tactic of a high line needs to go away.


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