Belgians Make First Trip to States with Decorated Roster
When fans come watch USA-Belgium on May 29th in Cleveland, they will get a first-hand look at one of the most promising teams in Europe, and one that several players on the MNT will know quite well.
The 15th-ranked Belgians will be hosted by the United States for the first time, and come sporting a roster fit to make a splash at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
They boast 10 players from the English Premier League and one from Bayern Munich, who dominated the Bundesliga and earned a trip to the Champions League Final.
A pair of Belgian players were named to the 2013 Premier League Team of the Year: Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen, who plays with Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele; and Europa League champion Eden Hazard from Chelsea. Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany earned back-to-back appearances on that list in 2011 and 2012, having won the Premier League title last season.
Christian Benteke, a teammate of Brad Guzan at Aston Villa, sits in third place on the Premier League scoring chart with 19 goals. Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini leads the Toffees with 11 goals, who along with Tim Howard and fellow Belgian international Kevin Mirallas has helped the team to a finish in the top six. Guillaume Gillet is a member of two-time Belgian league defending champion Anderlecht alongside Sacha Kljestan.
The Red Devils are tied for first place fourth-ranked Croatia in Group A of UEFA qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, posting a 5-1-0 record and only allowing a single goal thus far.
The MNT has faced off against the Belgians four times in the past, the last a 1-0 loss in 2011 in Brussels. The only win for the U.S. against Belgium came at the 1930 World Cup when they were 3-0 victors.
BELGIUM ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (4): Koen Casteels (Hoffenheim), Thibaut Courtois (Atletico de Madrid), Jean-Francois Gillet (FC Torino), Simon Mignolet (Sunderland AFC)
DEFENDERS (9): Toby Alderweireld (Ajax Amsterdam), Laurent Ciman (Standard Liege), Guillaume Gillet (Anderlecht), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Nicolas Lombaerts (Zenit St-Petersburg), Sebastien Pocognoli (Hannover), Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal FC), Daniel Van Buyten (Bayern Munich), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Nacer Chadli (FC Twente), Steven Defour (FC Porto), Moussa Dembele (Tottenham), Marouane Fellaini (Everton), Thorgan Hazard (SV Zulte-Waregem), Timmy Simons (FC Nürnberg), Axel Witsel (Zenit St-Petersburg)
FORWARDS (8): Christian Benteke (Aston Villa), Kevin De Bruyne (Werder Bremen), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Maxime Lestienne (Club Brugge), Romelu Lukaku (West Bromwich Albion), Dries Mertens (PSV Eindhoven), Kevin Mirallas (Everton), Jelle Vossen (KRC Genk)