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USA gets schooled by Belgium
by Mike Woitalla, May 30th, 2013 2:59AM

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TAGS:  belgium, men's national team, world cup 2014

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[USA-BELGIUM] If it's true that one learns more from failure than from success, Jurgen Klinsmann's men got educated real well against Belgium on Wednesday, when in their fifth game of the year they failed once again to show any signs of an ability to play impressive attacking soccer.

After the 4-2 loss to the Belgians in Cleveland, Klinsmann said he's not worried that the result will have a negative effect on his team when it plays three straight World Cup qualifiers following a friendly against Germany on Sunday.

“Not at all,” Klinsmann said. “Those are games that you need to play. There is no player who is going to have sleepless nights over the next couple days. They understand that when they make mistakes they pay for it in a defeat. I don’t think that confidence comes into play there. They understand why certain things happen and then you can correct it.”

Before facing World Cup qualifying foes Jamaica (June 7), Panama (June 11) and Honduras (June 18), they’ll face a German team that, despite playing without its Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid contingent, trounced Ecuador, 4-2, on Wednesday.

Perhaps Klinsmann is correct. Two tough friendlies might be the right recipe to prepare his team for the games that really matter. But the dismal start to 2013 is discouraging regardless. The focus after the Belgium loss was on the backline -- a central defense that Klinsmann insists doesn’t need the veteran Carlos Bocanegra -- but more troubling is the impotent offense, which Klinsmann doesn’t believe needs Landon Donovan.

The year began with a pathetic scoreless tie in a friendly with Canada. Then came a 2-1 loss at Honduras in the first game of the final round of World Cup qualifying. A 1-0 win over Costa Rica in farcical Colorado conditions and a scoreless tie in Mexico gave the USA four points from its first three Hexagonal games. But it managed only one shot on goal in those two games -- Clint Dempsey’s goal against the Ticos.

There were, of course, excuses for the lack of anything resembling creative, attacking soccer. It was the snow in Colorado and challenge of Azteca Stadium in Mexico. Against Belgium, when the only U.S. shots on target were Geoff Cameron’s headed goal from three yards out and Dempsey’s penalty kick, it was “having guys come in on Sunday and Monday and throw them into a game right away,” said Klinsmann.

That may be, but Klinsmann took the helm nearly two years ago and the team continues to look like a work in progress that hardly ever establishes a rhythm no matter who the opponent may be.

“Every day’s work on the training field going through certain elements and principles that help us build toward Jamaica [June 7],” Klinsmann said. “That is what we are working towards. We want to make sure there is a better flow and a better understanding on the field and better communication for when the games come that we badly need to win. There is no problem with confidence.”

There may not be a confidence problem when World Cup qualifying foes play at a level below the Belgians do in a friendly. But there’s little confidence here that Klinsmann’s team will do anything more impressive than grind their way to the World Cup in Brazil.

May 29 in Cleveland, Ohio
USA 2 Belgium 4. Goals: Cameron 22, Dempsey (pen.) 80; Mirallas 6, Benteke 56, Fellaini 64, Benteke 71.
USA -- Howard (Guzan, 46); Cameron, Gonzalez, Goodson (Besler, 69), Beasley; Jones, Kljestan (Holden, 81), Zusi (Evans, 69), Davis (Boyd, 63); Dempsey, Altidore (E.Johnson, 46).
Belgium -- Mignolet; Alderweireld, Vermaelen (Pocognoli, 36), Kompany (Gillet, 72), Vertonghen; Fellaini, Mirallas, Defour (Simons, 76), Lukaku (T. Hazard, 83); De Bruyne (Mertens, 68), Dembele (Benteke, 41).
Yellow cards: USA -- Jones 90; Belgium -- Simmons 78.
Referee: Jeffery Solis (Costa Rica)
Att.: 27,720

Next up:
June 2: USA-Germany
Kickoff: 2:30 pm ET.
TV: ESPN2, WatchESPN, UniMas



14 comments
  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: May 30, 2013 at 10:55 a.m.
    Can't play impressive soccer without impressive players. Is that Klinsi's fault?

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: May 30, 2013 at 10:57 a.m.
    Get schooled? Their soccer IQ doesn't measure up when it comes making the right decisions at the right time and executing This learning experience is not sinking in; same mistakes and virtually little if any quality.

  1. Jaime Torres
    commented on: May 30, 2013 at 11:21 a.m.
    I have to admit that this is very frustrating! If it is true it not all Klinsmann fault he carries some responsibility. I remember the first game under Klinnsman when they played Costa Rica that even though we lost they played a very nice/attractive soccer for the first 20 to 30 minutes. I remember being all excited because I thought that we would finally start playing attractive soccer. I don’t know what happened after that. I wish Klinnsmann could explain why he retrieved from playing like that. I am not very optimistic that things will change for the better, I hope I am wrong! We better get ready for a bumpy ride …

  1. Art Robles
    commented on: May 30, 2013 at 12:47 p.m.
    There are players in the US pool that are capable of playing the kind of soccer Klinsmann wants to play. He doesn't play them, though. Some he doesn't call in. I don't think he spends nearly enough time working on defense, either. So many people here dismiss a good counter-attacking strategy but a good coach takes a look at what he has and goes with a strategy that fits. If he wants to play an attractive possession game, gets those players in camp. If he wants to compete right now, he needs to play the right system.

  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: May 30, 2013 at 1:15 p.m.
    US used 17 players in the game - Gonzalez and Besler and many others are under 10 caps with the national team. Stuart Holden even got time. The Belgium game wasn't about finding a rhythm. Klinsmann may very well have to go with counter attack and 5 in the midfield, but wouldn't we rather he TRIED to develop an attacking style in the 2 years up to the WC? Friendlies are for trying things out.

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: May 30, 2013 at 3:05 p.m.
    When klinsmann suggests that we do not need bocanegra, Donovan, Feilhaber, cherundolo, adu, or Charlie Davies we no longer have a player problem it's a coaching problem. Can anyone clearly recall a time when bocanegra made a similar mistake compared to Gonzalez? The only good news from the game is that Beasley's experience in Mexico has made him a better player.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: May 30, 2013 at 3:20 p.m.
    GAK -- thank youfor the short but very perceptive comment. I'm reallygetting fed up with Woitalla's snarky comments. It's quite obvious that he doesn't like Klinsmann but then why doesn't he tell us why instead of interjecting his bias into what should have been an analysis of the game. First of all, it would have been appropriate to note the number of starters on the Belgium team that are starting with highly ranked European teams. This is not the Belgium team of the past Then compare that to what Klinsmann has to work with. Second, to say that Klinsmann doesn't "want" Donovan or Bocanegra on the team is highly disingenuous. Everyone knows that it is a case of playing time and conditioning--Donovan and Bocanegra will be there when needed.-- this time!! But this WC will pretty much be the swan song for Donovan, Bocanegra and Dempsey . What about after that? Third, for too long, US Soccer and the fans have suffered from short-termitis -- always now at the expense of tomorrow. For myself, I would be amenable to blowing off this entire WC cycle with the intention of building a team from scratch -- starting with the current U20's. Playing possession ball constantly, win or lose and sending the message to all US youth players that if they want to make the National team this is how they must play!! I KNOW THAT IS UNREALISTIC!! However, it's no less realistic than Mike Woitalla thinking that the the current player pool can somehow be shuffled to make them into world beaters.

  1. Raveen Rama
    commented on: May 30, 2013 at 4:12 p.m.
    It seems some of you don't like facts, and that is what Mike Woitalla gave us. We should have seen gradual progress and improvements in the two years since Klinsman assumed control but all we see is a roller coaster type of performances. It does not seem Klinsman knows how to pick a team, and everytime after losses he makes excuses. It is time that he and the USMNT took every game seriously whether it is a friendly or qualifying!

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: May 30, 2013 at 4:25 p.m.
    Fact -- US player pool is shallow and lacks skill. Fact -- Clint Dempsey is the only US field player that measures up to international standards. Fact -- there are 10 field players on a team. Fact -- if the US Nats played in the EPL, their only recourse would be to play bunker ball and long ball!!!!!

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: May 30, 2013 at 4:53 p.m.
    >Raveen: I completely agree with J. Froelich's assessment. Simply put, one cannot make a chicken salad without the chicken, right? Also, why isn't there one comment concerning Altidore's play in the first half? It was simply atrocious! And to also note that even the announcers kept on saying that the majority of the Belgians play for several EPL teams thereby giving them an advantage over us. As for another comment, that "It does not seem Klinsmann knows how to pick a team... and after losses he makes excuses...(sic)" well, yet another disingenuous comment! Put yourself in a head coaching position with an adult team, and then explain the loss and I am sure you will then be making excuses. Lastly, no one even commented about Bradley not playing, but I did hear commentary about LD's absence as well as Bocanegra's. Personally I cringed every time our MF tried to control the game, there was very little tracking back and try to defend and Gonzalez's mistakes paid dearly. Our shots on goal and/or attempts to try and get the ball to our forwards sucked, but Johnson did try but to no avail. The team functioned somewhat better with Johnson up top, still we shall soon see just where the team is headed!

  1. Dan Phillips
    commented on: May 30, 2013 at 4:58 p.m.
    When is JK going to give up on Altidore. The guy is worthless on USMNT. Slow, lumbring guy, who can't hold the ball. I don't care if he scores 1 million goals in Dutch League. He is useless. And stop with the lone striker up top. Doesn't work. Let it go Klinsi. Just stick to 4-4-2 for god's sake. Keep it simple. We do not have the talented striker to hold ball up top. Use 2 forwards, Herc Gomez and Eddie Johnson, with Clint Dempsey as the attacking midfielder. And that's it. Stop all these weird formations. And NO MORE Altidore!

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: May 30, 2013 at 8:10 p.m.
    Got to jump in two feet on a couple comments, first this idea that if we have possession somehow we magically will transform that into goals? Not likely, because everytime we actually connect the lines we still are 95% of the time at a disadvantage in numbers with no individual finisher except for Clint once in a while! Look at the replay, I don't remember one time where we outnumbered Belgium in the attacking third. Unless we commit as a team with pace to going forward, especially down the flanks, we will never be dangerous in the run of play. Secondly, our mix of veterans to up & comers is way off. If you look at the best international sides, they understand that experience is the rutter that steers the ship. The youth is what is supposed to provide the surprises of glory and receive the baton when their time arrives! Boca would of passed that to Gonzalez eventually, but now he may struggle for some years to come. Not preachy, just an opinion.

  1. miguel abisaab
    commented on: May 31, 2013 at 2:06 p.m.
    Hello Mike well the article that you put out is about the same as most other american soccer pundits are putting "Where's the attacking style at?". Most of the comments that I have read makes some sense, everyone is entitled to an opinion. The Worst case, Best case, Most likely, and Plan of Action Putting it in Perspective. The USMNT and US soccer is looking long term however US soccer fans want now now now. The worst is we see bad results barely winning or drawing with and losing to CONCACAF opponents, defeated by high level (France 1-0) and up n coming national sides like (Belgium 4-2, should have have been 6-1)and the best case we have seen is defeating the likes of Italy and Mexico 1-0, in their backyard for the first time. The most likely is we will lose or draw some of our home or away exhibitions, but winninng our home world cup qualification matches. The Plan of action is the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July, where the attack will be formulated for the rest of the World Cup qualification games. Landon Donovan will be there, now can the chemistry with Donovan,Corona,Bedoya,Gatt,Diskrud,Holden and Shea(if healthy) in the midfield. To produce service to are stikers if we bring in young guys like Agudelo,Boyd or Magee with vets like Gomez and Wondolowski get the goals. Defense is key if guys like Chandler, Spector,Ream,Lichji and Castillo. I still believe that the USMNT will achieve it's goal, qualify for the 2014 World Cup

  1. Abe Stauffer
    commented on: May 31, 2013 at 6:04 p.m.
    Bottom line: we need Bocanegra in the back four, if he has lost a step his experience is worth 10 steps and he is sorely needed! Bottom Line #2: we need Donavon. If he is only at 80% then he is still better than anyone out there v Belgium. Cudos to Stuart Holden for his long recovery and come back... if Klinsi can pick him after an physical injury layoff, then our all time leading scorer should not have to prove himself after a mental injury layoff!


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