The U.S. Men’s National Team fell 1-0 to Belgium with a 55th minute goal from Nicolas Lombaerts at King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels.
The U.S. had an 86th-minute goal from Maurice Edu disallowed for an apparent offside and could not manufacture a late equalizer.
“I think it was an interesting game for both sides,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “You saw in the first 25 minutes we had good passing movement and we were really involved in the game. The Belgian side, with their individual class, created some good chances before halftime. Second half, the reaction was very positive after conceding the goal. We kept moving forward and we kept creating chances. We take a lot away from this game. Overall some very, very good points and an interesting game I think for everybody.”
In the first match under Klinsmann on foreign soil, he started the same 4-3-3 formation as four days ago against Costa Rica, albeit with slightly different personnel. Clint Dempsey returned to the U.S. lineup and slotted into a three-man center midfield alongside Jose Torres and in front of Edu.
Clarence Goodson got the start at center back alongside captain Carlos Bocanegra while veteran Steve Cherundolo, who along with Dempsey stayed in Europe for the USA’s Sept. 2 clash with Costa Rica, returned to his usual spot at right back, moving Timmy Chandler to the left.
The USA’s three-pronged forward line was the same as it was against Costa Rica, featuring Jozy Altidore in the middle with Brek Shea and Robbie Rogers on the wings.
The match was high-paced and the U.S. had good possession in the first 20 minutes or so, but then the Belgians started stringing passes together as they took control of the tempo.
The USA’s best chance of the first half came in the fifth minute as Dempsey pounded a free kick off the wet turf that struck Belgium goalkeeper Simon Mignolet in the face. Altidore tried to follow up the rebound but was clipped from behind by Toby Alderweireld before he could get a strike on the ball.
In the 18th minute, Torres whipped in a left-footed free kick from outside the penalty area near the right sideline, but bent it just over the upper corner at the far post.
In the 26th minute, Belgium kick-started its attack that would produce 13 shots overall in the match when Timmy Simons fired a drive from outside the penalty arc that flew through traffic. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard, who had an excellent match while making four saves, made a fantastic stop, diving low to his right to power the ball out of danger.
Two minutes later, Dries Mertens finished a nice move down the left with cut inside to the top of the penalty area and then fired a shot that screamed just outside the left post.
In the 30th minute another quick series of passes got the crafty Eden Hazard into the left side of the box. He did well to cut back just in front of the left end line to lose the sliding Cherundolo, but his driven shot from a sharp angle was saved by the well-positioned Howard.
The U.S. called upon Howard again in the 34th minute as Marouane Fellaini sent a blistering volley on frame from a Mertens cross. Howard, who had just an instant to react before the ball pounded his gloves, pushed it out of danger once again.
At halftime, Klinsmann sent on Juan Agudelo for Altidore and Kyle Beckerman for Rogers, moving Dempsey to right midfield. The U.S. had a half-chance to take the lead early in the half as Beckerman ran onto a poorly cleared ball at the top of the penalty area, but he skied a shot over the goal.
The Belgian goal came 10 minutes into the second half off a throw-in from the right sideline. Edu challenged Fellaini in the air and the ball skimmed off the Belgian’s head to the top of the penalty area where Lombaerts laced a 22-yard shot off the wet turf under the diving Howard. The U.S. goalkeeper, who was screened by several players, got a piece of the ball but could not turn it away as it skidded under his left arm and into the net.
The U.S. had a few looks at goal in the final 20 minutes, mostly through Dempsey, but did not do much to challenge Mignolet. In the 70th minute, Dempsey feinted his way into the left corner of the penalty area, beating a defender with a wind-up, but struck his rolling shot right at the Belgian ‘keeper.
Ten minutes later, Dempsey found Shea with a pass into the left side of the box, and for a moment the tall U.S. winger had glimpse at goal, but several defenders closed the space and his shot was blocked.
The USA’s disallowed goal came with four minutes left in regulation as Cherundolo bent a long free kick into the penalty area. Goodson won the ball in a pack of players, knocking it down with a header for Edu, who showed some finishing class by running under the bouncing ball and looping his own header into the lower left corner, only to turn to his right and see the assistant referee with his flag aloft.
In the 89th minute, Shea finished a long run down left flank with a pass into the middle to Dempsey who fired a first-time shot with the outside of his right foot, but it took a deflection off a defender and Mignolet was able to grab it easily.
The U.S. team will be back in action on Saturday, Oct. 8, when the Americans host 2010 World Cup participant Honduras in an international friendly at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. Kickoff for the USA’s first match in South Florida since 2004 is set for 6 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on FOX Soccer and Univision. Tickets for the match go on sale Sept. 15 on ussoccer.com.
–– U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report —
Match: USA vs. Belgium
Date: Sept. 6, 2011
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: King Baudouin Stadium; Brussels, Belgium
Kickoff: 2:45 p.m. ET
Weather: 61 degrees; light rain
1-0 BEL – Nicolas Lombaerts (Marouane Fellaini) 55th minute
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 2-Steve Cherundolo, 4-Clarence Goodson, 5-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 3-Timmy Chandler; 6-Maurice Edu, 10- Jose Torres (15-Jeff Larentowicz, 76), 8-Clint Dempsey; 7-Robbie Rogers (14-Kyle Beckerman, 46), 9-Jozy Altidore (18-Juan Agudelo, 46), 11-Brek Shea
Subs not used: 12-Bill Hamid, 13- Michael Orozco Fiscal, 16-Sacha Kljestan, 17- Jonathan Spector
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
BELGIUM: 1-Simon Mignolet; 2-Laurent Ciman, 3-Toby Alderweireld, 4-Vincent Kompany (capt.), 5-Nicolas Lombaerts; 6-Timmy Simons; 7-Eden Hazard (16-Marvin Ogunjimi, 63), 10-Axel Witsel, 8-Marouane Fellaini (15-David Hubert, 63), 11-Dries Mertens; 9-Igor de Camargo (14-Romelu Lukaku, 63)
Subs not used: 12-Jean-Francois Gillet, 13-Timothy Derijck, 17-Jelle Vossen 18-Moussa Dembele, 19-Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe, 20-Jelle van Damme, 21-Thibaut Coutois
Head coach: George Leekens
Stats Summary: USA / BELGIUM
Shots: 6 / 13
Shots on Goal: 2 / 5
Saves: 4 / 2
Corner Kicks: 3 / 5
Fouls: 11 / 13
Offside: 1 / 2
Referee: William Collum (SCO), Assistant Referee 1: Graham Chambers (SCO)
Assistant Referee 2: Stuart Stevenson (SCO), Fourth Official: Philippe Vandecauter (BEL)
Budweiser Man of the Match: Steve Cherundolo
U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach JURGEN KLINSMANN
On the match:
“I think it was an interesting game for both sides. You saw in the first 25 minutes we had good passing movement and we were really involved in the game. The Belgian side with their individual class, created some good chances before halftime. In the second half, the reaction was very positive after conceding the goal. We kept moving forward and we kept creating chances. We take a lot away from this game. Overall some very, very good points and an interesting game I think for everybody.”
On the impact of young players:
“I think we have some very interesting youngsters coming through the ranks. Brek Shea is definitely one of them. He’s full of energy, he’s creative, and he’s fast and has a good physical presence. He’s one of the kids we are going to build over the next cycle. He’s eligible to play for the Olympic team, and so are others as well, like Juan Agudelo. You see their talent and what we try to do is build them one step at a time. It’s good to see guys like Brek come over here and play against a strong side. We’ve told the young players it’s now their time to challenge the established ones. That’s the message they’ve got and they have three years to do that.”
On substitutes and the second half:
“At halftime our problems weren’t too difficult to read. We had problems with Witsel and Fellaini passing too many balls through the middle because Maurice Edu was our only player in that position. Bringing Kyle Beckerman in helped Maurice out in that way and we were far more solid. They created far less chances in the second half. Step by step we pushed it forward. The goal came at a moment when we thought we had the feeling we were going to get more out of the game.”
U.S. Men’s National Team Midfielder CLINT DEMPSEY
On the match:
“We played some good soccer at times. We responded well after the goal and we were always looking like we were going to get the next one to equalize. We were unlucky not to end the game 1-1 and I don’t know why [Maurice Edu’s] goal was called back. We have to keep moving forward, keep working on things. It’s my first game with the new coach and I’m looking forward to getting more time in training to work with him so I can help the team more.”
On the team’s mentality during the game:
“We were confident and we wanted the ball. We’re away from home, in Europe, and I think that’s a step in the right direction. Even though we maybe didn’t create a lot of chances in the first half we linked a lot of passes together. It’s about fine tuning things and maybe being a bit greedier in the final third to take responsibility and create a bit more. Second half we did that but we still didn’t get the result we wanted.”
U.S. Men’s National Team Goalkeeper TIM HOWARD
On the match:
“It was a tough game. We knew coming in how talented Belgium was and they were coming off a draw in qualifying that they probably thought they should have won. We knew they were going to come out at home with a performance. Difficult game of course and conditions weren’t great, but it was nothing we didn’t expect. It was OK, in spots, and in a big game in Europe you’re going to have your back against the wall. For the most part I thought we were somewhat resilient.”
U.S. Men’s National Team Midfielder BREK SHEA
On the game against Belgium:
“In the second half we moved the ball well and it was unfortunate to lose the goal like that. We had good chances and possession. We created a lot and played pretty well. We didn’t get the win but it shows we’re progressing in each game.”
On his experience in Men’s National Team camp:
“I’m having a really good time playing with Klinsmann. Being around the guys is a lot of fun and I’m learning a lot. Hopefully I can continue to be called in. Each time I play I get more and more comfortable.”
U.S. Men’s National Team Midfielder SACHA KLJESTAN