USMNT / World

USA v. Brazil: A look back

The United States walked off the field in the Meadowlands with disappointment written on their faces. The national team did not show well against a young and relatively inexperienced Brazilian team. Although the game didn’t mean much in the scheme of things, the US missed an opportunity to gain a some respect in the soccer world.

The US didn’t come with their top team, but a number of major names including Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore, Tim Howard, and Carlos Bocanegra appeared in the game. On the Brazilian side only Robinho, Alexandre Pato, Thiago Silva, and Dani Alves could be considered starters. Most of the other players were young and skilled but not superstars yet.

The US started the game with a great deal of purpose and almost scored a goal off of a great sequence that ended with Landon Donovan in on goal. Unfortunately, a questionable tackle in the box put Donovan off enough that he couldn’t score. After the first 20 minutes or so the match shifted to the Brazilians and the US slowly lost the initiative and conceded possession and the game to Brazil.

Neymar scored off a beautiful cross into the area from Santos, while Pato scored off of a wonderful pass through the center of the defense from Ramires. Pato rounded Howard and slotted the goal away. The Brazilians had a number of other close chances and the scoreline could have ended 4 or 5 to nothing.

Michael Bradley came to play for an outmatched US team. (Photo: Nicolae Stoian)

The young Brazilians weathered the early American storm and then showed the old flowing attacking style that the Brazilians had set aside under former head coach, Dunga. It was a fun game to watch even though the US didn’t play that well.

Despite the poor overall performance, there were plenty of positives to take from this match. Playing Brazil is always great practice and a team improves much more by playing better teams than mediocre ones. Bob Bradley also got to field some young players like Alejandro Bedoya, Omar Gonzalez, and Robbie Findley. A number of other players like Clarence Goodson, Jonathan Spector, Jonathan Bornstein, Benny Feilhaber, and Brad Guzan got playing time.

The brightest spot was certainly Brad Guzan who made a number of good saves, showed excellent positioning, and good poise. Jozy Altidore showed a bit of skill from time to time, but did not have a great game. Edson Buddle showed some good hold up work, and Omar Gonzalez showed pretty well considering it was his first start and the level of competition. His trial by fire was successful, and he may be considered a strong future contributor to the national team. He looked like he could step in and contribute in CONCACAF qualifying against all but the top teams.

On the negative side, Sacha Klejstan didn’t show much improvement. Although he is now playing at Anderlecht, he looked sluggish and bored playing Brazil. He may have the talent, but he hasn’t shown it in a while. He needs to improve his level of effort before playing for the US again.

Brad Guzan made some great saves vs. Brazil. (Photo: Nicolae Stoian)

The US appeared to let off the gas after about the 20th minute or so. During the second half the US sat back and tried to absorb pressure. They collapsed their defense into their own half and let the Brazilians pass it around. The Brazilians slowly picked the US team apart. The fullbacks looked especially vulnerable to the speed of the Brazilian wingers and overlapping fullbacks. Better defending on the outside is something that the US will need to improve on to avoid lots of dangerous crosses from be played into the center of the defense.

The US looked a bit like a team in limbo, and not knowing whether Bob Bradley will stay on may have affected the team performance. For the national team to move forward and play well the coaching situation needs to be set. What did you think of the US performance? What did you think of the Brazilians?

(To see more of Nicolae Stoian’s photos from the game, click here.)

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