The Jurgen Klinsmann era took a downturn on Friday night when the United States fell to Costa Rica, 1-0, on home soil. It wasn't a pretty performance for the U.S. and now they are two matches into Klinsmann's reign without a win. It won't get any easier on Tuesday either when the Yanks square off against Belgium in Brussels.
For all the talk about the Yanks' trouble finding a competent striker, they have had their share of problems at the back as well. Carlos Bocanegra gives the team a leader in the center and someone who reads the game well, but he continues to age. Michael Orozco Fiscal has started both U.S. matches under Klinsmann and while he hasn't been a disaster, if he is the best that the U.S. has then they are in trouble. There's still the troublesome left back spot too, where Edgar Castillo has been nothing short of horrendous.
A good back line can have trouble against Belgium so the U.S. back line is surely in for a test. The highly touted Romelu Lukaku is a massive threat up top. Eden Hazard joins him in the category of amazingly talent Belgian youngsters and Alex Witsel is emerging as a fine player as well. Marouane Fellaini is still just 23 years old and Jelle Vossen is starting to come into his own at Genk. In short, Belgium have an incredible array of young talent that will really test the U.S. defense.
It's not just the back line that will need to play well if the U.S. is to keep Belgium under wraps. Jose Francisco Torres was good on the ball against Costa Rica, but he remains a defensive liability. He'll need to put in a tacle or two if he gets the nod against Belgium. Maurice Edu cannot afford to give the balla way as often as he has done recently or Belgium will make them pay. After a good match against Mexico last month, Kyle Beckerman may get a look on Tuesday, giving the U.S. some much needed bite in the midfield.
Going forward, the U.S. will get a boost from Clint Dempsey, who is rejoining the team after skipping the match against Costa Rica. Brek Shea will get another chance to continue his fine run of form, but he may be running out of gas. He's played a ton recently for FC Dallas and he was clearly tiring in the second half against Costa Rica. He really should be home resting, but Klinsmann wants another look at him. On the downside, Landon Donovan won't be in the team so the Yanks will have to make do without their star midfielder.
Once again, the U.S. will continue their search for a striker. Vincent Kompany will be standing in the center of the Belgium defense so Jozy Altidore and Juan Agudelo will have a rough time trying to get going. If either can get going and have a good match, it will be quite the accomplishment and maybe the breakthrough match that the U.S. needs from one of their strikers. The odds of that happening are slim though as the U.S. continues to play with a hole up top.
The United States and Belgium face off at 2:30 pm ET, 8:30 pm local time. The game can be seen on ESPN3.com in the USA.