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USA to play closed-door friendly against Belgium before World Cup

How much has the U.S. improved since last year's showing against one of Europe's most loaded squads? They'll find out on June 12.


The rumors floating about the soccerverse were confirmed by the Belgium FA to FIFA today -- the United States will play a closed-door friendly against Belgium on June 12 in Sao Paulo, just four days before the Americans take on Ghana in the first of its three Group G matches.

Belgium's an odd choice for two reasons: First, the Belgians looked dominant in a 4-2 win over the Americans last May in Cleveland, and unless the thinking is to see how the team now compares to last year's version, it doesn't feel like the morale booster that many teams opt for before the World Cup

Also, if the USMNT finishes second in Group G, and Belgium wins Group H -- which are not at all out of the realm of possibilities -- the teams would face each other in a this-time-for-real rematch on July 1 in Salvador. There's another rematch scenario involving the Americans winning Group G and the Belgians finishing second in their group, on June 30 in Porto Alegre. Should the U.S. and Belgium both win in each of their respective groups (or both finish second), they'd be on opposite sides of the brackets and couldn't meet until the final or the third place game.

So it's not the normal pre-World Cup match we're used to seeing. It's definitely not like playing Australia before the 2010 World Cup.

A Royal Belgian Football Federation spokesman said the match will be "a kind of training session for each side," which sounds a little underwhelming and expectation-setting -- and still makes the June 7 match against Nigeria in Jacksonville the last actual glimpse at the team's form prior to the World Cup.