By FRANCO PANIZO
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The U.S. men's national team opened up its first post-World Cup friendly against Brazil in impressive fashion, as Landon Donovan nearly scored in the third minute after a string of impressive passes played him through on goal.
That was as close as the Americans came to scoring in an ugly 2-0 loss to Brazil in front of 77,223 fans at New Meadowlands Stadium on Tuesday night.
Neymar and Alexandre Pato each netted goals in the first half to give manager Mano Menezes a win in his first match in charge of the Seleccao.
"Brazil is a good team, no matter who they bring in," said Brad Guzan, who came on at halftime for Tim Howard. "We need to become sharper. We need to become better. We need to pick off where we left off (at the World Cup) and tonight I think we took a step backwards."
The scoreline was a generous one for the U.S. team, which lacked creativity and possession following its bright start to the match. Brazil had two other shots smack off the post and could have won by more if not for several excellent saves from Guzan.
While Brazil trotted out a young team, the United States began the match with a couple of youngsters of its own. At right mid, New Jersey native Alejandro Bedoya received his first start while Omar Gonzalez was given his first cap and a surprise start by head coach Bob Bradley.
Gonzalez went the distance in the game, while Bedoya played 67 minutes.
Bedoya was partially at fault for the first goal, which happened in the 29th minute as Andre Santos took advantage of miscommunication between Bedoya and right back Jonathan Spector before crossing the ball to Neymar. The young Brazilian forward positioned himself well against Jonathan Bornstein and headed the ball home.
"Against a team like Brazil you learn a lot," said Bedoya. "For me, it's more about my defensive responsibilities, positioning wise and stuff like that, so I just got to get better at that."
Brazil would strike again just before the end of the first half when Alexandre Pato received a Ramires through ball behind Carlos Bocanegra, rounded Howard and finished with ease.
"Unfortunately, I probably should have ran with the runner but I thought maybe I could step him off," said Bocanegra. "I was in a tough spot and I got punished for it."
The Americans nearly pulled one back in the 56th minute as Michael Bradley headed home a Sacha Kljestan cross, but he was ruled offside.
Brazil's win was its fourth against the United States since 2007. It was also the second shutout victory for the Selecao in that time.
"You've got to give them credit," said Bocanegra. "They just put you in terrible positions and really make you feel uncomfortable defensively and really that's what they're good at."
What did you think of the United States' performance? Impressed by Brazil's young squad? Taking away any positives from the match?
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