USA to face Costa Rica, Belgium in September
The US national team officially has a pair of dance partners for the FIFA international fixture dates in September.
According to a press release sent out by the US Soccer Federation on Tuesday, the Yanks will host Costa Rica on Sept. 2 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., then travel to Brussels to take on Belgium on Sept. 6 at the Stade Roi Baudouin.
“The matches against Costa Rica and Belgium represent another great opportunity to continue the building process as we move towards the start of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying,” said US head coach Bob Bradley in the press release. “We will have the chance to look at a variety of players and at the same time challenge ourselves against two very different opponents.”
In the latest FIFA World Rankings, the USA are in the No. 24 spot, while Belgium are only a handful of places behind at No. 35 and Costa Rica show up down at No. 55.
The US hold a 11-11-6 record against Costa Rica since 1975. While this will be their first friendly meeting since May 28, 1995, when the Yanks beat los Ticos 2-1 in Tampa, Fla., the two teams know each other quite well, having played a total of 16 times since then, including 12 matches in World Cup qualifying competition and four in the Gold Cup.
In their last showdown, Jonathan Bornstein's second-half stoppage time equalizer earned the US a 2-2 tie in the final match of 2010 World Cup qualifying. The result sent Costa Rica into a qualification playoff against Uruguay, which they lost.
The US' match against Belgium will mark the first between the two nations in 13 years, and the first scheduled game outside the USA for Bradley's squad in the current calendar year.
Bradley has scheduled matches in eight different European countries during his tenure since 2007, compiling a 2-6-0 record: Sweden (1-0 loss), Switzerland (1-0 win), Poland (3-0 win), England (2-0 loss), Spain (1-0 loss), Slovakia (1-0 loss), Denmark (3-1 loss) and the Netherlands (2-1 loss).
The history between the two nations consists of three all-time matches. In 1930, the USA registered a 3-0 victory at the FIFA World Cup in Montevideo, Uruguay, but the Americans didn't face Belgium for another 65 years. The last two matches were played in Brussels, resulting in two shutout wins for the Europeans in April 1995 (1-0) and February 1998 (2-0).
Having qualified for six straight World Cup finals from 1982-2002 during the golden age of Belgian soccer, the Red Devils have missed out on the last two World Cup tournaments. They are considered a team in transition and currently sit in second place in Group A of Euro 2012 qualifying, featuring the likes of Germany, Turkey and Austria.
The most recognizable figures on the Belgian national team of late are Moussa Dembélé, Marouane Fellaini, Vincent Kompany and Eden Hazard. Fellaini is a teammate of US No. 1 Tim Howard at Everton, while Clint Dempsey played alongside Dembélé in the recently concluded English Premier League season.