US national team to face Belgium in Cleveland in friendly set for May 29
Drew Carey must be beside himself.
As was rumored back in January, the US national team will host Belgium for the first time in Cleveland in a May 29 friendly at FirstEnergy Stadium, US Soccer officially announced on Thursday. The match will mark the USMNT’s return to the Seattle Sounders minority owner’s hometown for the first time in seven years.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad will host the Belgians a week before resuming their busy World Cup qualifying schedule with a trip to Jamaica. Reports have suggested the US will also face Klinsmann’s home country, Germany, in a friendly on June 2 to celebrate US Soccer’s centennial.
The US have never hosted Belgium before, with all four previous coming on foreign soil. The Yanks lost their most recent meeting with the European side in a 1-0 friendly defeat in September of 2011 (pictured above), Klinsmann’s third match in charge of the team and his first trip to Europe as USMNT boss.
"Belgium is definitely a team on the rise," Klinsmann said in a statement. "If you look at their roster, they have quality players from top to bottom who are on some of the biggest clubs in Europe. It's a big opportunity for us and a great way to start the summer as we prepare for the World Cup qualifiers."
Currently ranked No. 19 in the FIFA World Rankings, the Belgians are in first place in Group A of UEFA qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The Red Devils boast an array of talent plying their trade in top teams across Europe, including Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini (club teammate of US goalkeeper Tim Howard), Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany and Chelsea striker Eden Hazard.
The US last played in Cleveland in March of 2006 as part of the send-off series before the 2006 World Cup. The Yanks defeated Venezuela, 2-0, in a match that marked the first cap for current USMNT stalwart Michael Bradley.
Kickoff for the May 29 match is set for 8 pm ET and will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and WatchESPN.