CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 02: Carlos Bocanegra #5 and Jose Torres #8 of the United States reavts after their loss to Costa Rica, 1-0, during the friendly soccer match at The Home Depot Center on September 2, 2011 in Carson, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
In a game on big ESPN (hooray midday schedules) at 11:30 AM Pacific, the United States faces Belgium. This second international friendly of September will have a slightly different cast of characters, with Clint Dempsey and Kyle Beckerman being the notable players joining, while Landon Donovan stays behind. In what likely should have been the test for Euro based players (and wouldn't have angered Jozy Altidore's coach), this will instead be most of the same players that we saw against Costa Rica. The troubles along the defensive line are the biggest issue, and they will be challenged by a young, growing team from the Lowlands.
Belgium offers a test in that the nation does not host one of the top leagues in the world, but their national team talent is in the top leagues on top teams in Europe. While the USA may not be able to get to that point, Belgium does offer a prime example of the next step in America's soccer evolution. While the USA is bringing up young talents, those talents aren't in the same level of competition. There are positives for Russia 2018, but this team aspiring for Brazil 2014 needs answers prior to Olympics Qualifying this Spring. That will give the squad as much time to develop together as possible, because it is unlikely that more than a handful of players become difference makers, so the only way that our nation will improve on its performance in South Africa will be by being more together than more talented sides.
This match may be the last viewing we get of a few players in the US shirt, but it should also be confirmation that a few certainly belong in Red, White or Blue.