May 30, 2012
By Michael Lewis
BRAZILIAN BEAT CAN'T BE BEAT
U.S. falls to South Americans, 4-1
LANDOVER, Md. -- Only days after its sterling performance against Scotland, the United States felt the sting of defeat, losing to Brazil, 4-1, in an international soccer friendly at Fed Ex Field.
|USA defender Steve Cherundolo battles Brazil goalscorer Neymar in the first half of Wednesday night's 4-1 loss at FedEx Field.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
A near capacity crowd of 67,619 was entertained by the technically gifted Brazilians, who samba-ed their way to a 2-0 lead, forcing the hosts to chase the game.
The Americans tried to make a game of it, but could not keep up with the five-time world champions.
Neymar, Thiago Silva, Marcelo and second-half sub Alexandre Pato tallied for the Brazilians, while Herculez Gomez found the back of the net for the U.S.
The Americans were put in an early hole as central defender Oguchi Onyewu was called for a hand ball just inside the penalty area. Neymar stepped up to take the penalty kick and fired a shot past goalkeeper Tim Howard into the lower right corner in the 12th minute.
While not as elegant as the Brazilians, the U.S. pushed forward and forced a free kick after a foul by Brazilians captain Thiago Silva some 30 yards out in the 16th minute. On the ensuing free kick, Landon Donovan tapped the ball to Gomez, who sent the ball straight to goalkeeper Rafael.
Howard wound up one of the most active U.S. players in the first half, either grabbing crosses or saving shots on Brazilian penetrations. In the seventh minute, the former MetroStars goalkeeper came out of the net to grab a right-wing cross from Hulk.
He then denied Leandro Damiao one-on-one in the area in the 18th minute before stopping the forward again on the left side of the area four minutes later.
The Brazilians were far from finished. Neymar floated in a corner kick from the right side that Thiago Silva managed to free himself from his marker as he headed home a five-yard shot past Howard for a 2-0 advantage.
The U.S. would not give up as it sliced the lead in half in the final minute of the first half. Michael Bradley won the ball, ran a semi-circle into open space, where he found an overlapping left back Fabian Johnson. Johnson penetrated down the left side and sent a cross to Gomez, whose header beat Rafael from point-blank range.
Some seven minutes into the second half, Brazil restored its lead to two goals as Marcelo converted a left-wing cross with a sliding shot to the near post.
Realizing the U.S. needed a major boost to make a game of it, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann pulled Jose Torres in favor of Clint Dempsey, who had been sidelined with a groin injury. It marked the first time in Klinsmann's 10-month tenure as coach that Dempsey and Donovan had played together.
The Americans almost pulled within a goal again in the 63rd minute. Trying for a brace, Gomez headed the ball toward an open area of the goal but Romula cleared the ball out of harm's way with Dempsey standing right on top of him.
Only three minutes after he came on for Leandro Damiao, Pato made his presence felt by ramming a shot off the left post. The U.S. cleared the ball out of the zone.
Gomez continued to push for his second goal as he was denied by Rafael from close-range in the 77th minute.
The U.S. came close twice in the waning minutes as Michael Bradley's head off a Donovan free kick was parried out of bounds by Rafael for a corner in the 85th minute before Onyewu headed an attempt off the crossbar moments later.
Pato finally got his goal in the 89th minute, beating Howard from the right side of the penalty area.