USMNT vs. Belize: A Look Ahead

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How do you get pumped up for a match that you are supposed to win by multiple goals? For the U.S. Men’s National Team, motivation for tonight’s CONCACAF Gold Cup opener goes well beyond simply wanting a result. For every player taking the field, the match is their chance to not only earn more minutes in the Gold Cup, but also potentially move their name up the USMNT depth chart.

It would be wrong for the U.S. to overlook their opponent tonight, but all signs point to a comfortable victory a U.S. team with the weapons to overwhelm the tiny Central American nation. There will really be no excuse for the Americans not to put in a strong showing and the focus will be as much on developing a familiarity within the group as it will be on the actual result of the match.

What will be the key things to watch for tonight when the USA faces Belize (11pm, Fox Soccer Channel)? Here are some key things to watch:



Will he play on the right wing? Will he line up as a forward? How about underneath a lone striker? Donovan’s versatility makes him viable at a variety of spots and where he is deployed tonight should let us know where Klinsmann sees him long term.


After his masterful outing vs. Guatemala, Stuart Holden has become the player most U.S. fans want to see moved into the starting lineup. The real question here is whether Klinsmann thinks he’s ready to go 90. If he doesn’t start tonight, it doesn’t mean he won’t be gradually moved into that role later in the tournament. Either way, Holden will have a big part to play in this Gold Cup.


Maybe that’s a little ambitious. How about “Can the U.S. centerbacks play well and not look shaky”. Oguchi Onyewu and Clarence Goodson enter the Gold Cup essentially playing for the USMNT lives. A good tournament could ensure they are called in when World Cup qualifying rolls around in September. If either or both struggle, it could open the door for Carlos Bocanegra to return.


Sometimes players can see their play improve dramatically when handed the captain’s armband, and while Beasley was pretty solid in recent World Cup qualifiers, he showed signs against Guatemala of a player playing with supreme confidence and poised for a big Gold Cup. He has a chance to really boost his chances of remaining Klinsmann preferred left back option with a strong tournament.


Brek Shea wasn’t even going to play in the Gold Cup until an injury to Josh Gatt opened the door for him to join the team. Now, instead of fighting to impress new manager Mark Hughes at Stoke City, Shea will be looking to show Klinsmann that he can once again be the player Klinsmann once used to hand regular starts with the first team.

And here are some other questions USMNT fans will be hoping to have an answer to in the coming weeks at the Gold Cup:

Will Jack McInerney get some minutes?

Will Mix Diskerud get a chance to start?

Can Chris Wondolowski build on his first USMNT goal?

Will Kyle Beckerman play well enough to silence the hordes of USMNT fans critical of his place in the starting lineup?

Can Joe Corona break through and finally make a real impact on the national team?

Can Jose Torres reach the potential he showed as a young player worthy of  World Cup start in 2010?


These are just a few of the questions to ponder both tonight and during the Gold Cup.

What questions are you hoping to see answered? Which of the above questions will you be paying the most attention to finding an answer?

Share your thoughts below.






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102 Responses to USMNT vs. Belize: A Look Ahead

  1. Mig says:

    You can’t get pumped. You have to watch cuz it’s a tournament (albeit of only minor importance) but pumped? Nah. Turf field, tiny (although great country) opponent, b-squad. The sad truth is we have to watch it even if we really don’t want to.

  2. alex dzierzynski says:

    They should run the same formation they ran in qualifying with Donovan playing in Dempseys position and Holden out on the right. They could switch back and forth with both being versatile.

  3. Ben Schenko says:

    The US should play LD up top with Gomez. Should move Torres to LM and sit Castillo. Holden has to start based on his play against Gua and honestly what has Beckerman done to earn the start? Mix deserves the chance.

  4. mb says:

    this is a game in which the players can only hurt their standing.

    • Paul Miller says:

      That sounds about right, but note how much was made out of beating the Guatemalans.

  5. Ryan nanez says:

    “Will Kyle Beckerman play well enough to silence the hordes of USMNT fans critical of his place in the starting lineup?” Never. Don’t care how he plays. He’s not a step in the right direction. He’s 2 steps back. actually probably more than that

  6. EspinDOHla says:

    Well, even though it’s Belize, I think this quote from Ruperto Vicente, the president of the Belize Football Federation, would motivate me if I was playing against them!!!

    “I call on our national team to not only beat the United States but to humiliate the United States. It is your responsibility. It is your task.”

    • Paul Miller says:

      Man, what’s the old rule? You don’t say anything before a game that might get taped to a wall in your opponents locker room. Dumb@ss.

  7. H-Town says: has a tweet from Conrad with a lockeroom pic attached. They’re going with “Where’s Waldo” jerseys and 1980’s graphic design shield instead of awesome original/new shield. Terrible!

  8. euroman says:

    Ives you are the only hater who thought Goodson & Gooch looked shaky. Open your eyes and don’t have heroes like every other fan.

    • Turgid Jacobian says:

      not the only one, at all

    • Jamie Z. says:

      He is? I thought that was a pretty common observation among fans and pundits alike.

    • nate says:

      Add me to what is in fact quite a lengthy list as far as I can tell.

    • Paul Miller says:

      Shaky is as shaky does

    • PetedeLA says:

      Shaky? That’s a euphemism if I ever heard one.

      Gooch looked like someone had played a practical joke on him (“Wait till he lifts up the blindfold and finds out we placed him on a soccer field in a real international soccer game!”) When you’re rusty and the rust doesn’t go away it means you’re just not that good anymore.

      In my opinion, Goodson deserves a chance, though.

      Unleash the Holden!

      • JB says:

        meh, I’m looking forward to seeing Gooch in for a few games and hopefully he will give OG some competition.

    • Roy says:

      Has “hater” become the most overused word in sports conversations? Jeez, a guy can be unhappy with someone’s performance without hating them. I think most of us haven’t been too excited about Gooch over the last few years, and Goodson’s career/performance arc is moving down–not up.

    • Scott says:

      um, no. I believe that was the more common thought process.They did look shaky, with Gooch looking the worse off of the two.

    • Joamiq says:

      Heroes? Huh?

  9. timmytwoshoezzz says:

    This 11:00 pm PT tv start is proving that Concacaf is every bit as stupid as MLS when it comes to putting their product on television.

    • Goalscorer24 says:

      8pm Pacific Time. 11pm Eastern.

    • Basic says:

      The world is bigger than the east coast Timmy. Not everything can be catered to you

      • nick says:

        That maybe, and while I have no problem with the occasional west coast game, the majority of people (viewership) lives on the eastern half of the country.

        If the NFL (Sunday nights and MNF) can start the games at 9EST, so can the USMNT.

        • shark says:

          The NFL also doesn’t host tournaments where they are forced into having double-headers during the work week.

          When were they supposed to start the first game? 3pm?

      • Joamiq says:

        A 7pm PT start would have made a lot more sense. That shouldn’t be inconvenient for the west coast, while asking east coasters to stay up until 1 am on a weeknight is pretty ridiculous.

  10. Turgid Jacobian says:

    Not close to the only one

  11. Ramblingvol says:

    Please tell me that Timber Joey is going to be there.

    • Turgid Jacobian says:

      He’s gonna need some extra gas and a longer tree

      • Adi from Oregon says:

        Even though the Timbers & their college coach are doing fantastic this year, I believe there is plenty of gas left and timber available even for a BIG WIN by the USMNT & Herr Klinsmann!!

  12. MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

    Will the game be broadcast in spanish? I hate fox soccer

  13. Zztoppppp says:

    If klinsmann doesn’t want Holden going a full 90 yet I would like to see Diskerud start over torres

  14. Andrew In Tally says:

    This is off the topic but I have to have an answer. What does YSA chant mean? Heard its a problem for Red Bulls fans and was being chanted at the UNMNT game at Rio Tinto.

  15. Jozy says:

    I’m going to impregnate my wife on the day Beckerman retires…. make it that much more memorable

  16. My line-up for tonight4-2-3-1

    ••••Shea•••• ••••Donovan•••• ••••Holden••••
    ••••Beckerman•••• ••••Mix••••
    ••••Beasley•••• ••••goodson•••• ••••Onyewu•••• ••••parkhurst••••

    • Paul Miller says:

      I like it, though I’d flip Donovan to the outside and put Holden (assuming he is ready for 90 on turf) in the middle.

      Belize will likely park the bus. All the more reason to pack the midfield and then let the middies confuse the bus with slanting runs, overlaps, etc. Plus, there’s always a chance we could frustrate Belize to come chase a little and open some space.

    • Paul Miller says:

      Doh… forgot about the moderation thing

      I like it, though I’d flip Donovan to the outside and put Holden (@ssuming he is ready for 90 on turf) in the middle.

      Belize will likely park the bus. All the more reason to pack the midfield and then let the middies confuse the bus with slanting runs, overlaps, etc. Plus, there’s always a chance we could frustrate Belize to come chase a little and open some space.

  17. Eric says:

    See you at the stadium!

  18. Paul says:

    Ives, I’ll take a shot at some of your questions:
    – Donovan is a withdrawn forward behind Gomez. Let him roam and create space.
    – Risky starting Holden on artificial turf with his knees. If he plays, limit the playing time. Split time with Mix.
    – I expect Onyewu to Impress. The shakiness was due to linking with Rimando. He dominates in the air, still defends well, and his size poses matchup problems for opponents. I think Goodson’s time has past. Parkhurst just plays to his strengths and within his physical abilities.
    – Beasley has earned the armband. Looking forward to his work linking with the midfield.
    – Shea is probably a sub. Not quite match fit. He’ll get better and more fit as the tourney progresses.
    – Until another MF is willing to do the thankless grunt work as well as Beckerman, he continues to start. He’s the lone true CDM on this roster. He is best available for the GC. Very doubtful for WC.
    – The MF competition is on the wings. That’s not a strength of Torres, and he’s a defensive liability.
    – The tryout is between Shea, Corona and Bedoya. Let’s evaluate after a few games.

  19. Adrian says:

    First time I’m not rooting for the U.S.A. Go Jaguars!!!!

  20. Rags in DC says:

    Online stream? Am on vacation with my family. Got the kids to sleep, and the resort doesn’t offer fox soccer channel. Ugh.

  21. Clover362 says:

    Roster is out hate Torres and Beckerman and wondo starting like that disk is in.

  22. Vman says:

    #USMNT starting lineup: Rimando; Parkhurst, Orozco-Fiscal, Goodson, Beasley ©; Beckerman; Corona, Diskerud, Torres; Donovan, Wondolowski

    Not sure about that midfield three…Wondo/ LD an interesting combo

  23. Vman says:

    Meaning the midfield three in front of KB

  24. Ivan says:

    Are they seriously playing on artificial turf? Disgusting!!!

  25. PD says:

    I cannot wait to see how hysterical folks will be if this amounts to a close 1-0 USA win.

  26. Nate Dollars says:

    the only thing beas “showed signs” of in the us-guate game, was getting beat several times by a subpar guatemalan winger (as he gets beat in every game he’s played at the back, some worse than others).

    one of the reasons i love beasley is that he gives everything for the team, no matter what he’s asked to do. however, he is not a international-caliber left back. if klinsmann is merely using the gold cup to get beasley experience at the position so that he can fill in for fabian johnson if need be, then i think it’s brilliant.

    if he’s asking beasley to be the ‘preferred left back option’, i think it’s a mind-boggling decision. fabian johnson was such a revelation for us because he provided us with the lock-down option at left back that we’ve needed for a decade. he is our top left back; let beasley play the wing like he was born to.

    • Mig says:

      Word, ND. well put.

    • the unmistakeable Ronadinho says:

      I think its the former option. Would seem our best lineup would be with Fabian at LB and LD on the left wing. Beasley getting more experience at a fairly new position so he can fill in when/if he needs to.

      • PD says:

        Chandler also provided a huge boost playing further up the field. If Chandler actually gets his act together and claims that LB role (provided Cherundolo stays healthy) I don’t mind Bease as our # 2 LB

    • Joamiq says:

      Relax – this is not an issue. Beasley is not going to start over Johnson. If Beasley happens to start at LB, it will be with Johnson ahead of him at LM, and they’ll overlap so much that it won’t matter who starts where.

      • Nate Dollars says:

        while i would like that to be true, that certainly hasn’t been the case, at least on defense (which is, obviously, when defensive skill/positioning matters).

        when beasley=LB and fabian=LM, beasley has been in the deeper position far more often than fabian. i think that should be the rare exception, not the rule.

  27. Mig says:

    This Costa Rica game looks like the US v Guatemala. Cuba getting tired, can’t press, Los Ticos start to find a lot of gaps. Also similar is that the announcers/commentators were saying CR had to make changes to break down Cuba. Just like Friday, all CR had to do was keep doing the same things until Cuba got tired.

  28. Goalscorer24 says:

    These games can be tricky because everyone expects the US to win, so even if you win there is no big wow in it. Since the Belize president is calling on his team to humiliate the US I hope we take it to them.

    • Mig says:

      I can imagine that in the Belize team meeting, the coach was informed of the President’s remarks and said “Wait. What? Humili…..oh F me.”

  29. bryan says:

    why the F is Torres playing LM?!?! COME ON! how many times?! i absolutely wanted him to start over Beckerman after seeing his passing percentages, but i would rather have him on the bench then at LM. that is so annoying.

    i do love the Corona inclusion at RM though. and Fiscal replacing Gooch for this game is a good time to see him again.

  30. Vic says:

    starting lineup: Wondo Donovan
    Torres Mixx Corona
    Beasley Goodson Orozco Parkhurst

  31. bryan says:

    why the F is Torres playing LM?!?! COME ON! how many times?! i absolutely wanted him to start over Beckerman after seeing his p@ssing percentages, but i would rather have him on the bench then at LM. that is so annoying.

    i do love the Corona inclusion at RM though. and Fiscal replacing Gooch for this game is a good time to see him again.

  32. Vic says:

    Would prefer Bedoya over Torres. We don’t need four central midfielders.

  33. Mickey says:

    Anyone have any online feed info? Thanks.

  34. Brian says:

    Live chat for tonight’s game or does Belize not warrant it?

    So psyched Mixx will be cap tied!

  35. Chupacabra says:

    Awesome music on the FSC opening segment . . . for a 1970s soap commercial, not a soccer match. Goodbye Fox Soccer, and good riddance.

  36. Joamiq says:

    Re: #4, I suspected that this would be the case – that elevating Beasley to captain would result in him coming out and working even harder, motivated by Klinsmann recognizing his importance. When you think about it, it had to hurt his confidence a lot to be one of the US’s twin great young hopes back in 2002, and to excel in the Champions League early in his career, and then see his career stall while Donovan became the unquestioned leader of the team. It’s got to feel good for him to be in this position now. I’m a huge fan of his and I hope he keeps it up.

  37. Jeff says:

    All this is nitpicking about individual players. For me, I’d like to see US as a team actually play JK’s stated style, from beginning to end, and manage the game as befits the difference between the two sides, beginning to end. Not just most of the time, the entire game.

  38. Paul says:

    I bet few of us guessed this lineup. Let’s see how Belize handles three technically skilled MFs. JK is looking for possession tonight.
    I’m thinking JK already has a lineup in mind for Cuba. They looked underwhelming against Costa Rica. Might give some veterans a rest before Costa Rica.

  39. markwriter says:

    These early Gold Cup games could not be a more ideal situation for 1st team players to ID themselves.

    Don’t understand the “should we care” meme at all, and it will naturally die as the US makes the final.

    Ives, you’ve been the media leader in refuting the “should we care” attitude and have done really well at setting up some questions to pay attention to… congrats.

    In my humble opinion the Klinsmann angle will really pop again after the Gold Cup, with an obvious positive or negative tinge based on the US’s results.

    You can contribute to that angle by writing about any changes in style Klinsmann has made since the Honduras loss in the spring vs. active choices Klinsmann has made to not change his approach and trust that it would work given more time.

    The number one job of any national coach is player selection, and it seems like Klinsmann has earned the player’s trust on that front. Why? A US-specific coach task is player development, and Klinsmann also seems to be doing well on that front. Why have his public challenges of both Altidore and Donovan turned out to be positives for the team? Etc. etc.