Next week, the United States men’s national team takes on both Belgium and Germany in two international friendlies. The games will serve as preparation for the U.S. for their three World Cup qualifiers in early June against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras.
So, what should U.S. fans be expecting to see out of the two friendlies?
Let’s take a look.
The Belgian Squad
Although the U.S. will not have its full squad available for the friendly against Belgium on May 29 due to injuries and late arrivals to camp, the Belgian squad is absolutely stacked.
The Belgian roster is a who’s who of upcoming and current superstars in world football.
In the midfield and up top, the Belgians have Moussa Dembele (Tottenham), Marouane Fellaini (Everton), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Christian Benteke (Aston Villa), Kevin De Bruyne (currently on loan at Werder Bremen from Chelsea ) and Romelu Lukaku (currently on loan at West Bromwich Albion from Chelsea).
The U.S. simply cannot match Belgium’s talent or experience—it will take a special effort to stay competitive with a Belgian team ready to make a deep run at the 2014 World Cup.
The German Squad
The German squad, in comparison to the Belgian squad, is considerably less deep. Because of the Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, German coach Joachim Loew has not called up many of the team’s usual stars.
The U.S. will, in many ways, be facing a German “C” team that will be highlighted by Rene Adler (Hamburg), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal), Lukas Podolski (Arsenal) and Miroslav Klose (Lazio).
Although it will be disappointing not to get to watch many of the German stars line up against the Stars and Stripes, the U.S. may need an easier game after facing off against the powerful Belgians.
Generating Some Offense
While it is smart of U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to want to test his squad against the best teams in the world, neither of these friendlies will simulate the type of competition the U.S. will face in the World Cup qualifiers following the friendlies.
The U.S. will face stiff tests from Jamaica, Panama and Honduras, but none of them has anywhere near the talent or experience of Belgium or Germany.
With a U.S. team that has generated a grand total of three shots on goal in its first three hexagonal World Cup qualifiers, Klinsmann needs to find a way to generate some offense.
The problem is, against Belgium and Germany, the U.S. is likely to be on its heels for most of the match no matter what players or formation Klinsmann deploys because the U.S. will simply be outmatched.
The one positive that may come out of these matches is that Klinsmann will get another chance to give his defenders a good workout and get Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron some valuable international experience.
The U.S. will be without Edgar Castillo, Joe Corona, Fabian Johnson and Danny Williams for the friendly against Belgium due to club commitments. The U.S. may also be without Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore depending on how much training they get after arriving to camp late.
Their absences will give Klinsmann an opportunity to get some players, likely Terrence Boyd and Sacha Kljestan a proper run-out with the first team. While both have gotten frequent call-ups under Klinsmann, neither has had the chance to prove themselves in a full game.
These friendlies may also give Klinsmann an opportunity to see how much damage was done to the form of Michael Parkhurst and Brek Shea due to their lack of playing time with their clubs and assess how far along Stuart Holden is in his return from injury.
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