New England Soccer Today

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Still in search of his first win as head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team, Jurgen Klinsmann added a bit more experience to his starting line-up against Belgium in King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on Tuesday night. Yet despite a bright start, the U.S. would fall to defeat by a 1-0 scoreline for the second time in four days.

With Steve Cherundolo and Clarence Goodson adding much needed experience to the backline alongside two Friday starters, captain Carlos Bocanegra and Timmy Chandler, the U.S. had a stronger foundation to count on than the team that lost 2-0 to Costa Rica. Outside of the changes in back, the rest of the team remained largely the same with just Clint Dempsey replacing Landon Donovan in the midfield besides Jose Torres and Maurice Edu. Brek Shea and Robbie Rogers again manned the wings behind lone striker Jozy Altidore.

Veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard made several saves to keep the game scoreless going into halftime, but he was unable to keep out Nicolas Lombaerts’ game winner in the 55th minute. Under pressure from an attacker, Edu failed to properly clear a Belgium long throw-in from the right sideline and his header landed at Lombaerts’ feet. Lombaerts hit a low bouncing shot that just rolled in underneath Howard inside the far post for the Belgian defender’s second international goal.

The U.S. started strong and looked the brighter side in the opening minutes. Dempsey threatened first in the 5th minute with a free kick from about 25 yards. His effort skipped along the slippery turf and was mishandled by goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. Some physical defending kept Altidore from getting to the rebound.

The tide started to turn around the 26th minute and Howard came up big for the U.S. to preserve the shutout, denying Belgium Timmy Simon’s shot from 20 yards with an impressive diving save.

Belgium had the better of the play from then on and it was Howard again with a big save in the 34th minute, this time after Maroune Fellaini volleyed a powerful shot on frame off a cross from Dries Mertens.

The U.S. made several changes in the second half, including bringing on Jozy Altidore, Kyle Beckerman and former New England Revolution midfielder Jeff Larentowicz. The appearance was just Larentowicz’s second for the U.S.

Despite the moves adding some life the U.S., it was Belgium that would take the lead ten minutes after halftime. The U.S.’ best chance to get back into the match came from a bit of creativity from Dempsey, another former Revolution midfielder, in the 71st minute. Dempsey got the ball just outside the box and sliced through a couple of defenders to create space for a shot. His shot didn’t match the build-up and was easily saved by Mignolet.

The U.S looked to have equalized in the 86th minute after a long free kick from Steve Cherundolo was headed forward by Clarence Goodson. Goodson’s effort found Maurice Edu, who headed it past Mignolet, but the play was ruled dead for an apparent offside.

18-year-old Romelu Lukaaku, who was recently transferred to English Premier League power Chelsea, should’ve doubled the lead for Belgium in second half stoppage time after being played behind the defense. The promising striker attempted to chip Howard, but sent his shot well high of the net.

The U.S., now 0-2-1 under Klinsmann, next returns to action on October 8th against Honduras at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.

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