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Belgium national team cancel training after Brussels attacks

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The Belgian national team cancelled training on Tuesday as a mark of respect for the victims of the Brussels terrorist attacks.

Belgium, currently ranked No. 1 in the world, is due to play a friendly against Portugal at Brussels’ King Baudouin Stadium on Mar. 29, however that game is now in huge doubt.

The Belgian squad always stay at a hotel in the Brussels Zaventem Airport complex, which was the airport at the heart of the attacks.

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris last November, Belgium’s friendly with Spain in Brussels was postponed over safety concerns and they haven’t played since.

Marc Wilmots’ side have qualified for the 2016 European Championships in France this summer and are among the favorites to lift what would be their first-ever major title. They have been placed in Group E with Italy, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland.

On Tuesday two separate attacks across the Belgian capital have killed at least 26 people, as a suspected suicide bomber attacked Brussels’ main airport and another explosion took place on the metro system which led to more casualties.

It has also been revealed last week that due to ongoing concerns from the Belgian FA about the security around Anderlecht’s training round, the venue where Belgium usually train, they had moved training this week to the King Baudouin Stadium instead.

Norwich City has confirmed that striker Dieumerci Mbokani, on loan from Dynamo Kiev, was at Brussels Airport during the attack. He was “unharmed but shaken” and was thought to be visiting friends in Brussels where he used to play for local club Anderlecht.

For the latest updates on the developing situation in Brussels, visit

VIDEO: Kyle Martino previews US vs. Belgium clash on SportsDash

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Former U.S. national team player and current NBC soccer analyst Kyle Martino joined the SportsDash crew on Tuesday, as he previewed the USA’s last 16 game vs. Belgium.

Martino breaks down the key battles in one of the biggest games in U.S. soccer history, while also discussing Luis Suarez’s ban.

Watch the video above to get Martino’s take on it all.

Three ways the US can overcome Belgium to reach World Cup quarters



The U.S. national teams biggest game in decades, perhaps ever, is just a few hours away.

A win against Belgium in the Round of 16 clash in Salvador would set up their first World Cup quarterfinal since 2002 and could well be the biggest win in U.S. soccer history.

[ RELATED: How will the U.S. line up vs. Belgium? ]

That being said, here are three ways the U.S. can overcome a Belgium side stacked with stars in what should be a tense and psychical encounter.

Here it goes…

Get it wide, early

If Belgium’s defense has one weakness, it is that fact that two center backs are playing as full backs. Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen is likely to start on the left, while Ajax’s Toby Alderweireld will play on the right. Both are great defenders but lack pace and are susceptible to jumping into challenges. Whenever Vertonghen stood in at left back for Spurs in the Premier League last season, he looked unsure in possession and less at home on the left. Both he and Alderweireld are over six-foot tall and if the likes of Graham Zusi, Alejandro Bedoya or whoever starts out wide gets at them from the get-go, the U.S. could have plenty of joy on the flanks.

Lock down the midfield

The midfield has been the USA’s strongest area thus far, even if Michael Bradley’s performances haven’t lived up to his usual high standards. Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman have been two of the USA’s best players, with Beckerman sweeping up all the loose balls in front of the back four with ease (the dude might as well have a cigar in his mouth) and Jones’ high-energy approach unnerving opponents. Belgium’s midfield duo of Marouane Fellaini and Axel Witsel are both extremely physical and the U.S. will have to win that midfield battle to get things going. Fellaini will try to wander in-behind Beckerman and support Lukaku but if  Beckerman (or whoever else is in the midfield) can lock him down, then the Manchester United man could be a ghost. Also, don’t expect Jones not to pick up a yellow in this one as his tough-tackling, along with Bradley and Beckerman snapping in, is needed to disturb Belgium’s engine room.

Stop Lukaku and Hazard 

Sounds simple enough… but it certainly isn’t. On their day Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard can rip opponents apart. How many times did we see Lukaku take one big touch past a defender, then striding past them before smashing the ball home in the last two PL seasons? As for Hazard, his trickery, pace and guile will give Fabian Johnson and the rest of the USA’s defenders plenty of problems. You can hit these two hard in the tackle and they keep coming back for more but it is unlikely that Lukaku will have come up against specimen such as Geoff Cameron or Omar Gonzalez (or whoever partners Matt Besler at CB) and Hazard can easily get rattled. If the U.S. get in their face and upset Belgium’s star talents, this could do the trick.

How will US line up vs. Belgium in Round of 16 clash?


With the U.S. taking on Belgium for a spot in the last eight of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, there are plenty of ways Jurgen Klinsmann can approach this one.

Looking at the two teams on paper, Belgium has more quality overall with plenty of players winning league titles in Europe and competing in the UEFA Champions League.

[ RELATED: Three key battles that could decide US vs. Belgium ]

[ RELATED: Altidore fit for U.S. ]

However, they haven’t blown teams away at the World Cup with two 1-0 wins and a 2-1 comeback victory to their name so far. Similarly the U.S. are tough to break down and aren’t likely to smash in three or four goals in a single game.

Let’s take a look at three options Klinsmann has, as the declaration that Jozy Altidore is now fit to play changes things considerably when it comes to the USA’s starting lineup.

Plan A: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…

After shutting down Germany and only losing 1-0 last-time out, many would argue that it was a decent showing from the U.S. against one of the favorites to win the World Cup. That said, Germany didn’t really get out of second-gear and if it wasn’t for Tim Howard’s heroics, Klinsmann’s side would have suffered a huge defeat that could have seen them knocked out. The only switch here is Bedoya coming in for Brad Davis, as the MLS winger failed to impact the game against Germany and was replaced early in the second half. Solid and steady.






Plan B: The cautious approach… 

If the U.S. are really worried about the attacking talents Belgium possess, this could be the way to go. Klinsmann could well go with an ultra-cautious approach, as his side showed they can bend and not break in their win against Ghana and grabbing a draw (that felt like a loss) against Portugal. This lineup would see Geoff Cameron coming in at right back and current right back Fabian Johnson pushing up to the right midfield spot. That way the U.S. would have plenty of height at the back to deal with the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Vincent Kompany, Marouane Fellaini and Jan Vertonghen from set pieces. Also, having Johnson on the right wing could stop Eden Hazard from getting on the ball and causing serious issues for the USA.






Plan C: Fight fire with fire…

Okay, this one is out there, but let’s discuss it. With Altidore declared available to play, do you risk bringing him on as a sub and then having to sub him? Maybe you start him, give Jozy 60 minutes and then switch things up. Here is the ultra-offensive look at how the U.S. could line up, as there is one noticeable absentee in the lineup: Michael Bradley. That is not likely to happen, but it seems to me as though Bradley really hasn’t been comfortable in a more advanced role for the U.S. He is a much better player breaking things up in midfield and someone like Mix Diskerud slots in better as an out-and-out playmaker. The U.S. could get torn apart if they deploy this lineup, then again they could be two or three up at  half time…







U.S. – Belgium warmup match may be off


The World Cup warm-up match between Belgium and the USMNT, originally set to be played behind closed doors on Thursday, may be canceled.

Marc Wilmots wants to avoid his team being subjected to long delays in the chaos of Sao Paulo. The Belgium coach said he “will not take the risk to go to Sao Paulo, looking at the possibility of a strike and traffic jams. I don’t want to sit in a bus for five hours.”

It may seem like a silly reason to cancel a match based on “traffic,” but keep in mind that last month, Sao Paulo experienced the worst traffic jam in its history – 214 miles of clogged up roads. And while a subway strike was temporarily suspended, there’s a strong possibility that, if the two sides don’t come to an agreement on Wednesday evening, the transport system will be a mess again on Thursday.

Just in time for the opening match of the World Cup!

Wilmots said he will contact Jurgen Klinsmann late on Wednesday to discuss whether the game will go ahead. The Belgian manager is considering having his team warm up with an intrasquad game at their training base in Sao Paolo, instead.

Both teams have some time to further prepare for the tournament. Belgium’s first match isn’t until next Tuesday, the 17th, against Algeria. The USMNT begins on Monday the 16th, with their match against Ghana scheduled for 6 p.m. ET.