It looked strikingly similar to Friday night’s loss to Costa Rica. Too similar, in fact, as the US national team moved the ball well in the early going against Belgium but failed to finish their chances and lost, 1-0 on Tuesday at King Boudoin Stadium.
A 55th-minute shot from Nicolas Lombaerts skipped off the wet turf and under US goalkeeper Tim Howard on a rainy night in Brussels.
The loss leaves Jurgen Klinsmann still searching for his first win as manager of the US. The Yanks have lost twice and drawn once, scoring only one goal over the three matches since the German World Cup winner took over from Bob Bradley.
After traveling from Los Angeles over the weekend, Klinsmann shook up his lineup, particularly on the backline. Clarence Goodson and Steve Cherundolo came into the starting XI, and Timmy Chandler, who started at right back against Costa Rica, shifted to the left side in place of Edgar Castillo.
Clint Dempsey also got the starting nod, making his first appearance since Klinsmann took over. And in the fifth minute, the Fulham star nearly made the coach proud. Dempsey’s free kick from 22 yards bounced in front of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and ricocheted away. Jozy Altidore appeared set to bundle home the rebound but the Belgian defense recovered before he could get a foot on it.
In the 18th minute, José Torres whipped a left-footed freekick from right side that just missed the upper 90.
After the spell of attacking play, the US suddenly found themselves on the back foot. And if Howard were not in goal, they would’ve been down by three goals.
In the 26th minute, Timmy Simons crushed long-range shot that Howard dove to bat away. A minute later, Dries Mertens cut inside from the left and slammed a shot wide of the left post — so close it fooled even the TV commentators into thinking it had gone in.
Finally, in the 34th minute, Marouane Fellaini had an open volley from about eight yards that Howard just got across to block.
After the break, the US brought on Juan Agudelo and Kyle Beckerman, and the changes energized the US attack. However, the defense let them down before they could break through.
In the 55th minute, a long throw flicked on by Fellaini was half-cleared straight to Lombaerts, who drilled a half-volley low through a tangle of legs. The ball bounced once and skipped under Howard.
The US had a couple of good chances to equalize, including a Dempsey mazy into the box that deserved a better shot.
In the 86th minute, the US looked like they had their equalizer, but the linesman’s flag nullified Maurice Edu’s strike. He ran onto a knockdown from Goodson on a freekick, but the referee had called it off.
And the US was forced to settle for second straight 1-0 loss.
BEL -- Lombaerts 55’
USA -- Tim Howard; Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson, Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), Timmy Chandler; Maurice Edu, José Torres (Jeff Larentowicz, 76), Clint Dempsey; Robbie Rogers (Kyle Beckerman, 46), Jozy Altidore (1Juan Agudelo, 46), Brek Shea
Substitutes not used: Bill Hamid, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Sacha Kljestan, Jonathan Spector
Belgium -- Simon Mignolet; Laurent Ciman, Toby Alderweireld, Vincent Kompany (capt.), Nicolas Lombaerts; Timmy Simons; Eden Hazard (Marvin Ogunjimi, 63), Axel Witsel, Marouane Fellaini (David Hubert, 63), Dries Mertens; Igor de Camargo (Romelu Lukaku, 63)
Substitutes not used: Jean-Francois Gillet, Timothy Derijck, Jelle Vossen Moussa Dembele, Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe, Jelle Van Damme, Thibaut Coutois
Referee: William Collum
Assistant Referees: Graham Chambers, Stuart Stevenson
Fourth Official: Philippe Vandecauter
Weather: 61 degrees; light rain