Previewing U.S. vs. Belgium friendly

September, 5, 2011

The United States is in Brussels for the third game of the Jurgen Klinsmann era (Tuesday, 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN3). Here are five notes on the upcoming friendly in Belgium.

• Belgium leads the all-time series 2-1-0, shutting out the U.S. in Brussels in 1995 and 1998. The American win was 3-0 at the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay, which was the U.S.'s first-ever World Cup match.

• The U.S. is winless (0-1-3) in four straight matches versus European teams, and none of those games were played in Europe, where the Americans have struggled even more lately. The U.S. has lost five straight matches to European teams in Europe, last winning 3-0 at Poland in March 2008.

• A hat-tip to the Elias Sports Bureau for this nugget: If the U.S. does not defeat Belgium, Klinsmann would be the first U.S. head coach to go winless in his first three matches since Lothar Osiander started 0-2-2 from 1986-87. Osiander survived as coach through 1988, finishing with a 4-9-5 record before being replaced by Bob Gansler.

• The U.S. is also in danger of its second four-game winless streak this calendar year, and third since falling to Ghana at last year's World Cup. Before this stretch, the U.S. had only one four-game winless streak in a single year since 1999. That was in 2007, a run of five straight losses that included three games with a B-team at Copa America. The last year the U.S. had two four-game winless streaks was 1998, which included three World Cup defeats in France.

• Until a recent dry spell, Belgium was a regular international contender. Its 11 World Cup appearances are tied with Sweden for most of any country that did not qualify for last year's tournament. Belgium was third at Euros in 1972 and runner-up in 1980. A fourth-place finish at the 1986 World Cup was followed by quarterfinal appearances in three of the next four World Cups. But the Red Devils have failed to qualify for the past four major tournaments, and their chances of reaching Euro 2012 are slim. Germany has already clinched the top spot in Group A, and Belgium trails second-place Turkey by one point, despite playing an additional game. SPI gives Turkey a 96 percent chance of finishing runner-up and likely advancing to a playoff.


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