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Dirty Tackle

USA lose to better team: The facts of Belgium’s 4-2 friendly win

Brooks Peck
Dirty Tackle

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Belgium beat the USA 4-2 in a friendly to counterbalance whatever confidence boost the Americans took from beating Costa Rica in a blizzard and earning a 0-0 draw in Mexico in their last two World Cup qualifiers. The USA played something of an experimental starting XI without the likes of Michael Bradley (or Landon Donovan) and made plenty of mistakes that the Belgians capitalized on with ease. Here are the facts of the night:

-It was only a friendly.

-Belgium are good. Even without Eden Hazard, they still put out a formidable starting XI filled with a startling amount of talent (even at half speed).

-Belgium have only allowed one goal in World Cup qualifying and only the Netherlands have more points out of all the teams in the UEFA group stage. So the Americans scored twice as many goals in one match against them as Croatia, Serbia, Wales, Macedonia and Scotland have in six matches. That's...something.

-Romelu Lukaku, who scored 17 Premier League goals this season at the age of 20, and Christian Benteke, who scored 19 goals in the Premier League this season at the age of 22, both have an unfair combination of size and skill.

-Jozy Altidore, who scored 31 goals in 39 matches across all competitions for AZ Alkmaar this season, still hasn't scored for the USA since 2011. Then again, he also still isn't being provided with many chances. He was substituted at halftime.

-It was only a friendly.

-Jurgen Klinsmann fiddling around with a backline filled with inexperience, a lack of chemistry and guys playing out of position results in a bad time for everyone. Except opposing strikers.

-Seriously, Belgium have so much young talent that FIFA should investigate to see if they have some kind of footballer X-Men growth lab.

-Even the referee, who was Costa Rican and thus had every reason not to be kind to the USA, awarded them a dubious penalty in the 80th minute for a handball that was far less clear than the one he didn't call on DeMarcus Beasley in the first half. Captain Clint Dempsey made the most of the decision and made it 4-2.

-It was only a friendly.

-The lone bright spot for the USA: Stuart Holden played the final 10 minutes of the match — his first international appearance in more than two years due to a string of knee injuries. Whether he can contribute and fulfill the dusty promise he showed before the universe conspired against him remains to be seen, but he's worked very hard. For him and everyone who has supported him, it was a great moment.

-Assuming Belgium qualify for next year's World Cup, everyone who thinks they're really, really clever will ramble on and on about the whole time.

-Germany, even without a full-strength squad, could be a next level beatdown for the USA. But Jamaica and Panama, their next opponents in World Cup qualifying, aren't at that level.

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