Skip to content

Belgians pick apart U.S. defense, roll to easy win in Cleveland

May 29, 2013, 10:04 PM EDT

Belgium v United States Getty Images

Combine the promise of a young and emerging Belgian national team with a disorganized United States defense and you get Wednesday’s result. Taking the lead in the seventh minute before scoring three times in the second half, Belgium saw goals from Kevin Mirallas, Marouane Fellaini, and two from Christian Benteke defeat the U.S., the 4-2 final understating the extent to which the Belgians controlled the match.

The visitors out-shot the U.S. 10-3, including 8-2 advantage in shots on goals. Before their final, 71st minute goal, Belgium rarely allowed the U.S. enough positive possession to penetrate their attacking third, with the game’s final 20 minutes seeing a resurgent U.S. battle back amid the disappointment of a match that was prematurely settled.

The night got off to a bad start for the U.S., who gave up a goal inside seven minutes. Belgian attacker Kevin De Bruyne, with no pressure on him at the edge of the attacking third, played onto his right foot from the left flank ahead of a through ball into Tim Howard’s area. The Everton star charged off his line but couldn’t get to De Bruyne’s pass ahead of Romelu Lukaku, who had blown past a U.S. defense frozen, assuming Howard would collect the ball. Lukaku’s poke ended up ricocheting to Kevin Mirallas, the defense failing to get back before Howard’s club teammate chipped home the opener from just inside the 18-yard box.

Over the next 20 minutes, Belgium retained control of play but not the score, with the U.S. equalizing in the 23rd minute off a corner kick. A restart initially played short was crossed far post for Clint Dempsey, who’d won space from Vincent Kompany, allowing him to head the ball back toward the left post.  Geoff Cameron had gotten a step on Jan Vertonghen and, partially making up for his part in the preceding goal, headed home to made it 1-1.

(MORE: Breaking down Wednesday’s defensive breakdowns for the United States)

It was the U.S.’s only shot on goal of the half. Belgium, conversely, recorded five shots, three of which tested Howard, though one of the biggest threats, a ball from Lukaku that ended up in the back of the net in the 27th minute, was waved off for offside.

Another strong Lukaku chance, blasted toward Howard’s right post from inside the arc, was pushed wide in the 40th minute, allowing the teams to go into halftime tied, 1-1.

Whereas the Belgians had brought on Sebastien Pocognoli (for Thomas Vermaelen) and Christian Benteke (for Moussa Dembele) in the first half, Jurgen Klinsmann waited until after halftime to make his first changes. Brad Guzan and Eddie Johnson were brought on, with Howard and Jozy Altidore giving way.

Over the first 10 minutes of the second half, the U.S. had appeared to pick up their intensity in defensive. Then a through ball for Benteke to the middle of the U.S. area was cleared weakly by Omar Gonzalez into the right of the States’ area. De Bruyne got to the ball and touched it back toward Benteke, who Gonzalez has left to pursue the errant clearance. Benteke’s one-time shot from just outside the six-yard box put Belgium back in front, 2-1.

In the 64th minute, after Klinsmann had brought on Terrence Boyd for Brad Davis, a long ball played through a high U.S. line allowed Lukaku a shot from 16 yards out, a try that was pushed out at the near post. Off the resulting corner, the second ball in was sent far post for Marouane Fellaini, whose sharp-angle header down at the left post beat Guzan to give Belgium a 3-1 lead.

Seven minutes later, after Brad Evans had been brought on for Graham Zusi, Benteke got behind the U.S. defense to chip a bouncing ball over the oncoming Guzan. The Aston Villa star’s sixth international goal put the visitors up, 4-1.

In the 80th minute, a handball called on Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld on an Eddie Johnson cross allowed Clint Dempsey to convert from the spot. His 10th goal in his last 13 international appearances pulled the U.S. within two.

It would be the last chance of the night for the U.S., a team that struggled to muster a consistent threat against the high-powered Belgians. The visitors, on the other hand, saw little resistance through midfield, with long passes through the U.S. defense taking advantage of a unit that lacked organization.

Latest Posts
  1. LIVE – At the half: Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo have Real Madrid, Barcelona level

    Oct 25, 2014, 12:59 PM EDT

    Real Madrid CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga Real Madrid CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga

    Neymar and Ronaldo stealing the show so far, as four on yellows for Barca. Live updates, here:

  2. VIDEO: Manuel Pellegrini “not disappointed” by Manchester City’s defeat

    Oct 25, 2014, 12:48 PM EDT

    FBL-ENG-PR-WEST HAM-MAN CITY FBL-ENG-PR-WEST HAM-MAN CITY

    Pellegrini magnanimous in defeat, but City could be eight points off top spot by the end of the weekend.

  3. Liverpool 0-0 Hull City: Clean sheet small consolation for rigid Reds

    Oct 25, 2014, 12:05 PM EDT

    Reds thwarted by stubborn Tigers, as Balotelli fires a blank once again.

  4. West Bromwich Albion 2-2 Crystal Palace: Baggies find deserved point

    Oct 25, 2014, 12:04 PM EDT

    West Bromwich Albion v Crystal Palace - Premier League Getty Images

    West Brom won the shots battle 17-8 and carried nearly 70 percent of the possession by the time all was said and done.

  5. Southampton 1-0 Stoke City: Dominant Saints only need one goal

    Oct 25, 2014, 11:59 AM EDT

    Southampton v Stoke City - Premier League Getty Images

    It was 1-0 at half, and it was all the Saints would need.

  6. Watch Live: Swansea City vs. Leicester City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Oct 25, 2014, 11:41 AM EDT

    Swansea City v Rotherham United - Capital One Cup Second Round Getty Images

    Eighth-place Swans will host the suddenly-struggling Foxes as both teams look to rebuild momentum after good starts to the season.

  7. FOLLOW LIVE – Luis Suarez starts for Barcelona vs. Real Madrid in El Clasico, full lineups

    Oct 25, 2014, 11:24 AM EDT

    Barcelona B v Indonesia U19: Friendly Getty Images

    Follow El Clasico here with live updates, as Suarez starts with his four month ban over.

  8. Watch Live: Liverpool vs. Hull City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Oct 25, 2014, 9:50 AM EDT

    Balotelli AP

    Will Mario Balotelli score his first Premier League goal and get Liverpool going? Watch live, here.

  9. West Ham United 2-1 Manchester City: Hammers stun reigning champs

    Oct 25, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

    FBL-ENG-PR-WEST HAM-MAN CITY FBL-ENG-PR-WEST HAM-MAN CITY

    Hammers win third-straight PL game, as City’s bad week gets worse.

  10. Watch Live: West Bromwich Albion vs. Crystal Palace (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Oct 25, 2014, 9:24 AM EDT

    Crystal Palace v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Getty Images

    The Baggies are two points above the drop with 9 points, while Palace’s 8 points have them slightly less safe.

  11. Watch Live: Southampton vs. Stoke City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Oct 25, 2014, 9:22 AM EDT

    Asmir Begovic smashes another long kick forward as the wind swirled around the Britannia Stadium. Getty Images

    Around this time last season, Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic scored a goal in the wind against Southampton.

  12. Now World Cup bound, USWNT can send message in CONCACAF final

    Oct 25, 2014, 9:17 AM EDT

    Tobin Heath, Liliana Mercado AP

    Before the tournament, we asked whether they’d roar, and so far the US women have done so.

  13. Louis van Gaal hails Jose Mourinho, beams about close relationship

    Oct 25, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT

    van-gaal-mourinho Getty Images

    Van Gaal: “He’s very special but he is very special for me because we’ve continued our relationship.”

  14. VIDEO: Brendan Rodgers concerned about Liverpool’s defensive issues

    Oct 25, 2014, 8:25 AM EDT

    Just what is going wrong at the back for Liverpool? Brendan Rodgers has a theory…

  15. WATCH: Premier League online via NBC Sports Live Extra – Week 9

    Oct 25, 2014, 7:02 AM EDT

    Live Extra

    Where and how to watch every PL game during Week 9 live online or via the app.

Featured video

PST Extra: Can United beat Chelsea?