Preview: USMNT, Belgium friendly

Geoff Cameron, USMNT

BY PATRICK MacDONALD
Staff Writer, USMNT

Tonight’s match may be meaningless, but it’s nevertheless going to be a tough test for the U.S. National team.

The team tasked with warming up the U.S. for World Cup Qualifying is 15th ranked Belgium; a team stocked with young, extraordinarily talented players. The U.S. on the other hand brings a roster that’s not quite at full strength.

Left back is one of the biggest holes at the moment. Fabian Johnson and Edgar Castillo are not yet in camp, which leaves DeMarcus Beasley as the first choice fullback against Belgium. Beasley is OK, but not an ideal player for the position. He was one of the best players on the field against Costa Rica back in March while looking extraordinarily shaky in Mexico.

The competition will be tougher from the Belgians.

The other big hole in the roster is the absence of Michael Bradley. Word has it that Sacha Kljestan will be taking his spot in the midfield. Kljestan had another fine season with Anderlecht, appearing in nine of their 10 Champions League matches. However, he’s never quite excelled at the National Team level. Replacing the supremely talented Bradley for a night will give him a chance to finally prove his worth for on the side.

The fact is the U.S. will have it’s hands full. The Belgians bring in a stacked squad featuring the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Christian Benteke up top, a midfield bossed by Alex Witsel, Mousa Dembele, and Marouane Fellaini and a defense featuring Vincent Kompany (the squad captain), with Daniel Van Buyten and Thomas Vermaelen also anchoring the back.

Looking at Belgium’s roster, its hard to poke any holes. Should the U.S. pull off a positive result, it will certainly be a nice little confidence boost considering their current state.

The last time these two teams played was in 2011 in Brussels where the Belgians pulled out a 1-0 victory. This was back when the U.S. was just getting started under Klinsmann. The players now have a better understanding of the man, but Belgium has gotten better too.

While Klinsmann’s teams have a habit of pulling unexpected results out of their pocket, tonight will not be one of the them. U.S drops the match 2-0.

Projected Lineup:


Howard
Cameron-Besler-Gonzalez-Beasley
Jones-Kljestan
Zusi
Gomez-Altidore-Dempsey