The U.S Men’s National team came crashing back to earth last night, losing 4-1 to Brazil. The US came into the game full of confidence after beating Scotland 5-1 last week, but they soon realized that Brazil is a big step up in class from the Scots.
Brazil quickly jumped into a two-goal lead as Neymar showed why he is rated as one of the top three players in the world. First he converted a penalty after a handball from Oguchi Onyewu and then it was from his corner kick that Thiago Silva headed in for his first international goal in the 26th.
At this point, I was thinking that the U.S. were going to get thumped as they looked really poor defensively, especially Onyewu, and seemed overawed to be playing Brazil.
But then right on the stroke of half-time Herculez Gomez, in his first start since the 2010 World Cup, scored following a fine run by Michael Bradley and cross by Fabian Johnson and the U.S. were back in the game.
Not sure what U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said at half-time but the U.S. played much better. They were more combative with the Brazilians, and took the game to them. Something that they rarely did against big nations in the past.
An illustration of how the U.S. philosophy has changed since Klinsmann took over, two years ago the U.S. lost to Brazil 2-0 at the Meadowlands. In that game the U.S. were outshot 20-7. Last night the U.S. had a 15-12 advantage in shots.
But ultimately is is goals that win games and Brazil gave the Americans a lesson in clinical finishing. First Marcelo made it 3-1 in the 52nd minute when Hulk brought the ball down the left side and passed to Neymar. Onyewu and Bocanegra dropped back too far and Neymar pulled the ball back to the top of the 6-yard box, where Marcelo slid and put the ball in with his left foot.
Pato made it 4-1 late on, when Onyewu played him onside and he finished brilliantly passed Tim Howard.
Some Takeaways from the game. U.S. looked really poor defensively, especially Onyewu. Might have been the worst defensive display by an American side in a couple of years. One the positive side, the U.S. created a lot of chances against the sixth ranked team in the world. The Brazilian goalkeeper Cabral made three or four outstanding saves in the second half, plus Onyewu hit the crossbar from a Donovan cross. When Klinsmann took over the national team, we saw the U.S. have lots of possession without threatening to score. These two game have shown that the U.S. is learning to convert that possession into goalscoring opportunities and that will make them a much harder side to beat.
As for Brazil, Neymar and Marcelo were brilliant. They were head and shoulders above everyone else on the pitch. Going forward, they were the Brazil of old with their tricks and movement. Defensively, they were shockingly poor and it will be interesting to see if Mexico or Argentina in the next week can not only create the sort of chances that the U.S. did, but also convert more of them.
What did you think of the game and the U.S.’s performance?