It's probably better if fans of the United States national team act like Wednesday night never happened.
The U.S. was outclassed in every definition of the word by a very strong Belgium side. It didn't come as a huge shock that the United States lost, but what was surprising was the way in which they lost.
To say the Americans were second-best would imply that they even had a chance.
Jurgen Klinsmann has a long struggle ahead as he tries to navigate this team through 2014 World Cup qualification. It was nice to draw in the Estadio Azteca back in March. That result seems a lifetime away from what fans saw on Wednesday, though.
It was an dispiriting performance from the United States overall, but these three players stand out for how little they contributed to the game. They figure to be key players down the road and need to do much more for the United States in World Cup qualification.
Omar Gonzalez was terrible at the back. There's no way around it. He simply had an awful game. ESPN's Alexi Lalas put it in perspective, though:
Gonzalez won MLS Defender of the Year in 2011 and was listed in the Best XI of the Year in '11 and '12. He's clearly a quality centre-back and should have a nice future with the national team.
The lows are going to have to come before the highs, though. As Taylor Twellman put it during the broadcast, as a fan, you'd rather have Gonzalez struggle in friendlies rather than World Cup qualification.
Had Gonzalez not gotten injured in January 2012, he would have been much further along in his international career.
You can't be too hard on the centre-back after the Belgium game, but you should expect more of Gonzalez in the future.
Geoff Cameron can be a good centre-back. He, however, cannot be a good right-back. Part of his poor performance must be blamed on the apparent contradiction made by Klinsmann, noted by Seth Vertelney of Goal.com:
So Geoff Cameron said he was brought in to play center back. Tonight he's at right back #USMNT— Seth Vertelney (@svertgoalcom) May 29, 2013
Cameron simply doesn't have the game to be a full-back. He's not quick enough to offer any width in the attack, nor can he track quick wingers in defense. Kevin De Bruyne and Kevin Mirallas had field days out wide for Belgium.
At this point, Cameron's only future for the national team is at centre-back. The United States need him and Gonzalez to bed in together and form a competent partnership. Right-back will still be a concern for the team, but at least the U.S. is solid in the central part of its back four.
Simply being played out of position can't explain why he was so poor against Belgium, though. They're a good squad, but Cameron needs to improve greatly from what he showed against the Belgians.
To a certain extent, you've got to feel for Jozy Altidore. He's done so much for AZ Alkmaar—31 goals in 39 matches this season—and yet, he seems to get little respect from Klinsmann. He got dropped from the squad back in October, and against Belgium was taken off at halftime.
Then again, it's not anything new that Altidore has been prolific for the national team, according to American Soccer Now:
Can Jozy Altidore apply for a Dutch passport? Can't miss there, can't score here. Last #USMNT goal on US soil came in June 2011— American Soccer Now (@ThisIsASN) May 30, 2013
Altidore continues to be one of the most befuddling players on the U.S. national team. He's got the physical tools to succeed, but he continues to lack the footballing skills.
You thought Altidore would become more tactically and technically astute in the Netherlands, but it appears he's just feasting on poor Eredivisie back fours, like so many marginal strikers before him.
The drop in talent between Altidore and the United States' second-best option at striker is too significant for Altidore to continue to underwhelm.