Tonight at 8:00 PM (eastern USA time) on ESPN2 the USA will play in their first international action since losing to Ghana in extra time 2-1 this recent World Cup. And the match will have plenty of fresh faces from the recent World Cup and it will also be the beginning of a new coaching era for the most successful football nation in the world. Let’s look at the three major story lines of this upcoming friendly:
1) Mano Menezes Reign
Menezes has replaced Dunga as the national team coach and tonight will be the debut of his international coaching era. Of course Dunga was one of the most controversial coaches in Brazilian World Cup history and his refusal to cater to several Brazilian legends by leaving them off of the World Cup roster was highly debated over the last season. But it is a new day in Brazil and perhaps tonight will give us a glimpse into the future of the dominant football nation.
2) The Newboys
Brazil new coach Menezes will be relying on the Santos’ foursome of Andre, Ganso, Neymar, and Robinho to lead the club to victory tonight. And Andre, Ganso, and Neymar are perhaps the future to the Brazilian football program and all three young players will be granted the opportunity to prove themselves as full time players over the next four years. Also the addition of AC Milan’s Pato to the forwards unit suggests that Menezes is focusing on the unharnessed youth of the nation to excel over the next four years. Only one forward (Robinho) has seen regular minutes at the World Cup level.
3) Will the Yanks Make a Stand?
The USA has the home field advantage of the match and last summer the squad nearly upset the powerhouse nation in the Confederations Cup final. But Kaka lead his team to a late victory and the USA has never looked as good as that run since. But with Kaka injured and several new squad members for Brazil, perhaps the 14 out of 18 man from the World Cup roster for the USA will play as a huge advantage?