New England Soccer Today

U.S. Crushed By Belgium, 4-2

Belgium scored three second half goals en route to a 4-2 victory over the United States in a friendly match at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio, on Wednesday night. The 15th ranked Belgians took the lead within the first seven minutes, but the 29th ranked U.S. fought back to tie the score going into the break only to collapse in the second half, giving up three unanswered goals before scoring a late consolation goal to give the game its final score.

The U.S. entered the match with a somewhat depleted roster. Among the missing regulars due to injuries or club commitments were center midfielders Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu, left midfielder Brek Shea, and left backs Fabian Johnson and Edgar Castillo. Veterans left out of the squad for other reasons included attacking midfielder Landon Donovan and right back Steve Cherundolo.

Belgium grabbed the lead in just the 7th minute when Kevin De Bruyne played Romelu Lukaku behind the defense, beating the offside trap. Tim Howard was quick off his line to knock the ball away, but the rebound fell to Kevin Mirallas who chipped it over the ‘keeper and into the net to put the visitors ahead.

Belgium continued to control the match, but the U.S. managed to find an equalizer off a corner in the 23rd minute. Graham Zusi sent the corner into the box where former New England Revolution forward Clint Dempsey headed it back across goal. North Attleboro, Mass. native Geoff Cameron beat his man to the ball, heading it in to knot the score at 1-1.  The goal was Cameron’s first for the U.S.

The score would remain even at the half despite Lukaku forcing Howard into a difficult save before the break.

The visitors would deservedly retake the lead in the 56th minute when a poor touch by Omar Gonzalez gifted the ball to De Bruyne. De Bruyne slid a low pass across goal where Christian Benteke easily slotted it into the net to put Belgium back ahead 2-1.

Belgium doubled their lead in the 64th minute when the U.S. failed to fully clear a corner and Belgium crossed it back in as the U.S. defense was pushing forward. Marouane Fellaini met the cross at the far post and headed it past Guzan for his sixth international goal.

Benteke then put the game out of reach in the 71st minute when Steven Defour chipped a perfect pass over the defense allowing Benteke to run in alone on goal. Benteke chipped a shot over Guzan to make it 4-1.

The U.S. got a late consolation goal in the 80th minute after being awarded a penalty kick when an Eddie Johnson cross deflected off the arm of Toby Alderweireld, who was whistled for a handball in the box. Dempsey stepped up to take the penalty, slotting it low into the corner out of the reach of Simon Mignolet to cut the lead to 4-2. The goal was the 33rd of Dempsey’s international career.

The U.S. returns to action on Sunday, June 2, with a friendly against Germany at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Bradley is expected to join the team before the match.

Leave a Reply