Three thoughts after the U.S.'s 1-0 friendly loss to Belgium on Wednesday in Brussels:
• Pretty good defense, but (once again) no goals. Granted, the new-look U.S. team was playing on the road against one of the more talented young teams in Europe, but scoring chances were few and far between again for Jurgen Klinsmann's Yanks. The defense did pretty well: Tim Howard made a couple big stops as Belgium had the run of play in the first half, and the introduction of Kyle Beckerman in the second half helped tighten things up defensively. But while the U.S. had a few good passing sequences, its precision in the final third was still lacking. Brek Shea had a good game on the left flank while Clint Dempsey and José Torres were calm on the ball, but neither center forward (Jozy Altidore in the first half, Juan Agudelo in the second) was given much to work with. Does Klinsmann consider using two center forwards next time?
DAVIS: U.S. player ratings
• The experiments continue. Natural right back Timmy Chandler got the start at left back in place of Edgar Castillo, a worthwhile attempt to figure out if Chandler and right back Steve Cherundolo can play on the field at the same time. Chandler was a bit more encouraging than Castillo and deserves more opportunities on the left side, but he's got some work to do. Chandler was good at moving upfield on occasion and even delivered a cross or two, but he clearly did not trust his left foot, which got him in trouble on a couple occasions. Meanwhile, the Robbie Rogers experiment as a starting right-flank player might be nearing an end. As he showed in a disappointing performance against Spain in June, Rogers doesn't do much more than run on the ball with his head down and try to draw fouls. There's little in the way of real creativity there, not a huge surprise since Rogers hasn't exactly lit up MLS on the flanks the last couple years.
• RIP Bobby Rhine. Far more important than any soccer game today was the awful news that Rhine, the former standout and broadcaster for FC Dallas, had died on Monday of an apparent heart attack at age 35. Rhine was one of the most respected players in MLS during his days in the league, and you could not have met a nicer guy. He leaves behind his wife, Bevan, and his two children. My condolences to his family.
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