U.S. rocked 4-2 by Belgium in soccer

CLEVELAND (AP) — After the stomping, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann got stumped.

Not long after his team was overrun 4-2 on Wednesday night in an international friendly by a talented Belgium team that dominated the Americans for 90 minutes, Klinsmann was asked if there were three positives to be taken from the loss.

“Um,” Klinsmann said, pausing. “Three? You challenge me with three?”

Klinsmann smiled and then danced around coming up with an adequate answer.

There really wasn’t much he could say.

Christian Benteke scored two goals in the second half and Marouane Fellaini had another as Belgium took advantage of U.S. defensive breakdowns and scored three times after halftime in a one-sided thrashing of the Americans, who hoped the match — and an upcoming one Sunday in Washington D.C. against Germany — would help get them ready for upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Belgium, boasting a strong roster with 10 players from the English Premier League, overpowered a U.S. team that has some work to do on defense before it can even think about making the field for next summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

“We just have to tighten up,” said goalkeeper Tim Howard, who gave up just one goal before he was replaced in the second half by Brad Guzan. “Most of the teams we’re going to play have firepower, so it’s on us to put the other teams on our terms defensively. We should be the ones taking the space away or giving them space. We should be dictating the tempo of the game.”

Benteke, who plays for Aston Villa, scored in the 56th and 71st minutes for Belgium, ranked 15th in the world and considered a rising European power.

Geoff Cameron scored in the 22nd minute and Clint Dempsey pounded in a penalty kick in the 80th minute for the U.S, which will play World Cup qualifiers next month against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras.

Klinsmann figured Belgium would provide a stiff challenge for his evolving team, which is missing several key players. And while the Americans had some nice moments, the Belgians controlled the game from the outset.

Still, Klinsmann said it was a good learning experience for his squad to play against one of the world’s best teams.

“This is why we want to play teams like Belgium and like Germany and like Russia.” Klinsmann said, “because there is so much that you can read from those games and there is so much you can see. Obviously, you want to win them. But I would rather play Belgium 10 more times than El Salvador 100 times because that is when you learn.”

Before a crowd of 27,720, Belgium took advantage of poor defense to score three of its goals.

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