The U.S. men's national team's 4-2 loss to Belgium showed a number of things. For starters, Belgium, even without Eden Hazard, is a world-class side. It didn't take a one-sided showing in Cleveland to prove that, though. Wednesday's loss said more about the state of the U.S. defense, which remains a work in progress. Granted, not all of the top-choice players were at Jürgen Klinsmann's disposal, but as a pre-qualifier test, the U.S. did not turn in a passing grade. It won't get any easier Sunday, when Germany, despite its Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund contingent largely not making trip, awaits at RFK Stadium.
Keeping in mind that the likes of Michael Bradley, Fabian Johnson and Timmy Chandler were not available (and Landon Donovan, Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo were not called in), the U.S. struggled mightily, first in absorbing Belgium's pressure, then in defending some routine plays. The U.S. was able to balance out the run of play in the latter stages of the first half, turned in a well-worked set piece to score an equalizer and made good on a fortuitous penalty call late in the game, but there was little else from a playing standpoint to take away from the outing at FirstEnergy Stadium. Above all else, it was a landmark night for DaMarcus Beasley and Stuart Holden, and ultimately, that is the good the encounter can provide going forward. Here are player ratings from the match (as always, on a scale of 0-10):