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Missed chances, shaky defending doom USMNT in 4-1 loss to Brazil


photo by Jose L. Argueta/


LANDOVER, Md. — The U.S. men's national team looked to its match against Brazil as a way to gauge just how far it has come in its first year under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, and the U.S. men found out there is still work to be done.

Four days after routing Scotland to open their busy summer, the United States suffered a 4-1 defeat to Brazil in front of a crowd of 67,619 fans at FedEx Field on Wednesday night. The Americans created chances, but a failure to to finish combined with some shaky defending ended the U.S. team's winning streak at five games.

"It's a very good team, and that's what we expected, with very good individual players," said Klinsmann. "Neymar and his technical skils that he has, and he has this freshness in his game to try things out and make things that you don't expect. They have a very powerful forward with Hulk that is a handful, there's no doubt about it. They have a a very good group that are coming through the ranks that Mano Menezes is trying to build."

Neymar scored early on a controversial penalty kick and added two assists for the Brazilians, while Alexandre Pato came off the bench to cap the scoring. Herculez Gomez, who started for the U.S. team for the first time since 2010, scored the lone goal for the hosts with a headed finish just before halftime.

The Americans had chances in the match to pull closer but were unable to convert. Oguchi Onyewu thundered a header off the cross bar in the second half, while Michael Bradley and substitute Terrence Boyd also failed to put away chances against Brazilian goalkeeper Rafael.

Both teams began the match by sharing possession and feeling each other out. But the United States fell behind in the 12th minute when Neymar beat Tim Howard with a penalty kick that was awarded to the Selecao following a questionable handball on Oguchi Onyewu.

Neymar went from scorer to provider 14 minutes later, delivering a corner kick that Thiago Silva headed home.

"(Onyewu) says he hit him in the stomach and plus he was outside the box," said Klinsmann. "Then you get another set piece, you're 2-0 down, so you run after Brazil, which is very difficult because then you open up spaces and they can counter break you."

The Americans got a lifeline just before halftime, as Michael Bradley hit Fabian Johnson with a pass down the left flank. Johnson sent in a cross that took a slight deflection, and Gomez was there to head it into the back of the net from close range.

"I thought the team reacted very well," said Klinsmann. "They fought themselves back in the game, they scored that goal. We wanted to avoid, obviously, a third goal coming out for the second half."

That did not happen. Seven minutes after the intermission, Neymar got down the left side and sent in a low cross that Marcelo smashed past a helpless Howard.

The United States attempted to rally after that, but things got chippy in the match. Jermaine Jones was given a yellow card in the 57th minute for taking down Neymar with a sweeping kick, and Brazilian fullback Marcelo was cautioned three minutes later.

"I think we mixed it up in the second half," said Howard. "We made them uncomfortable. I thought it was a great tackle on Neymar from Jermaine. They were pissing and moaning and rolling around, and got a little bit of help from the referee. We stood up for ourselves."

The final goal of the game came three minutes before the death, when Pato chested down a ball from Marcelo and rifled a shot to the far post despite appeals for offside from the Americans.

"The fourth goal, my information is the guy was two yards offside," said Klinsmann. "So we're talking about a goal two yards offside, we're talking about a penalty kick that's not be, so that kind of pisses me off to be honest. But it is what it is. Congratulations to Brazil for the win."

The scoreline does not indicate it, but in terms of performance the United States did better than they have in the past against the five-time World Champions. Rather than defend and counter, the Americans tried to take the game to Brazil when they could. And while it did work at times, the lack of finishing and shoddy defending ultimately cost them.

"We did have good spells where we moved the ball around," said Clint Dempsey, who entered the game in the 56th minute. "But it hurts you to concede a goal so early in a game like this. It puts more pressure on you and we just never really seem to get those type of calls."

The U.S. team next takes on Canada at BMO Field in Toronto on June 3 before starting World Cup qualifying against Antigua and Barbuda on June 8 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla.


What do you think of Brazil's 4-1 win over the United States? Who impressed/disappointed you? Encouraged by how the U.S. offense played?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. People like to be negative after a loss.

    Yeah the negative folks’ response will be “they finished their chances and we didn’t, but on any other day some of those go in. That Bradley header was hit quite hard, most goalkeepers are not stopping that. And Gooch’s goes in if not for the bar. In fairness they had one off the bar as well, but given all the problems with the US team (slow CBs who can’t distribute, Cherundolo getting slow, Edu being badly suited for what he was doing, Donovan being shut down by Marcelo who had a heck of a game, the second half was played incredibly evenly, to the extent that the full game stats are quite comparable between the two teams.

  2. You said the word: Finishing. They know how to finish. Our attempts in the first half, on some good opportunities, were just awful. I mean, Edu really blasted his shot like a cannon, but it was at least 10 yards, probably closer to 20, off target. Torres sliced his shot. Etc. Etc. Dempsey and, yes, Altidore are needed to at least put shots on target.

  3. As has been mentioned, approximately all 24 of those passes were simple lateral passes or back passes. What has gone unmentioned are those occasions when he inexplicably held onto the ball and either turned it over, or almost turned it over and ended up making one of those “successful” emergency back passes.

  4. Two new central defenders! (No offense, Carlos — you’ve done great over the years, but we need an upgrade.)

  5. Wow. I wasn’t very familiar with Marcelo before today, but he is fantastic. Yes, he got dirty, but long before that he made Donovan look mediocre repeatedly.

  6. Howard did make one save on a near sure thing chance, the 1 v 1 early on. But yeah one thing that hasn’t changes is we will only beat or tie a top team if our keeper comes up huge.

  7. I agree with what a lot of folks were saying here about this game needing a 4-4-2. Brazil was a handful and while we had sone good moments, they made their good moments count for goals. The US got a little unlucky in some spots and flat out made mistakes in spots as well. Brazil pressed every tie the US had the ball though, so credit needs to be given to the winners.

    Some observations:
    Dempsey and Johnson play off each other incredibly well.
    I like Torres and Gomez a whole lot. Glad to see them getting time and hope it continues. Edu wasn’t utilized very well tonite, but didn’t do enough to rise above the moment either. Same could be said of Donovan and Jones.

    Onyewu had a bad night at the office, the hand all could have gone either way, but again he did not rise above. The third goal was one of the worst defensive moments of the night, and thst was both Jones losing his mark and Gooch being unaware.

    That said, great players make good opponents look foolish. The more I follow this game the more I respect what Brazil does as a football nation. It’s like they grow superstars on trees over there. Crazy stuff.

  8. So, you’re admitting you’ve missed most of Onyewu’s recent games with the Nats?

    This debacle of distribution is not a new development.

    Aron Winters you say? No kidding.

  9. The back pass to Boca was not his fault, and honestly a smart pass. A counter resulted because of Boca’s poor touch that left the ball too far from his body to shield properly.

    Gomez could have had a hat trick. If he puts a bit more stank on the header that Bradley almost knocked in from point blank there’s his #2. Brasil’s GK (total stud) makes a huge save on Gomez’s volley off his chest trap from a brilliant slide behind the defense run. Because Gomez did not score more than once you think others are lowering their standards? Honestly your point of view is week and extremely short sighted and shows a serious lack of understanding of the game and what the responsibilities are for a lone striker.

  10. why are you bringing up history, like if we could get Gooch from years back. stay in the present, the guy is not up to par, we will reminisce when he goes in to the USSF hall of fame. For now, he is just not there.

  11. Can we stop quoting passing statistics for players that obviously had bad games passing.

    Last game we heard about Edu’s 93% passing success and now it’s Gooch’s 3/4 passing completions.

    Edu, Boca, and Gooch are not exactly masters of distribution. They may end up with decent stats because they complete simple passes, but they are not the passes that relieve pressure or start breaks.

    They are however all fantastic on set pieces.

  12. I didn’t feel like Donovan had a bad game. He did what he could against Marcello who was MOTM in my opinion.

  13. or 3-3 or 3-2 or 2-3. A couple bounces our way or calls our way or a save or two missed by the Brazil keeper. It was much closer than the 4-1 scoreline.

  14. We won’t face anyone in qualification that can match the speed and pressure of Brazil. That being said, the distribution by the CBs out the back was alarming.

  15. Just wanted to reiterate what a previous poster put up – that stats for the game.

    United States Brazil
    17(6) Shots (on Goal) 13(7)
    10 Fouls 12
    8 Corner Kicks 5
    1 Offsides 1
    48% Time of Possession 52%
    2 Yellow Cards 2
    0 Red Cards 0
    3 Saves 5

    We played OK – have a lot to work on – but it could have been a lot closer on the final scoreboard.

  16. For those arguing over how bad we played. Here are a few stats to show that we weren’t as awful as the scoreboard indicates.

    Shot on goal: USA 17 Brazil 13
    Fouls: USA 10 Brazil 12
    Corners: USA 8 Brazil 5
    Possession: USA 48% Brazil 52%

    Not bad at all against the best imo.

  17. I was at the game tonight, and I came away with a couple of takeaways:

    – I was extremely nervous when we went down 2-0, but we played quite strong at the end of the first half. Credit must be given to Bradley, Johnson, and Gomez for keeping the score close as halftime came about.
    – As we all have acknowledged, Gooch had a tough night. But lets not lay all the blame on him. Dolo had a tough night dealing with Neymar and Marcelo (what an amazing left flank) and on an occasion or two, Gooch was pulled out of position to cover for Dolo.
    – There was a noticeable uptick in our performance once Dempsey came on the 2nd half – passes were connecting with more pace and consistency. Runs off the ball towards goal were more crisp. He’s a spark that is fantastic (btw, I see him playing this role for Arsenal or PSG next year).
    – Torres held his own in the midfield. I was worried about his size, but his foot speed and ball command were assets.
    – Overall, Johnson and Bradley were our two “men of the match”. They showed real class.

  18. Oh yeah, FABIAN, Dolo, and Gomez were my players of the game for the U.S.

    Fabian was my POTG for the U.S. The kid is in beast mode all the time. With Lichaj on our pool as well, I can care less for Chandler. Thank you Fabian for making U.S fans once again happy.

    Parkhurst looked lost. This dude doesn’t convince me.

  19. If you look at the score, it seems like a rout, but if the Brazilian goalkeeper wasn’t as good as he was the story would be very different.

    I thought the attack looked great, which is something that has always sorely lacked with the US. Gomez was a workhorse the whole game and definitely has shown that Altidore needs to get his act together in order to earn that place up front.

    I think Fabian Johnson has truly locked in the LB position. On the other hand, the rest of the back line was shocking. That had to be one of Bocanegra’s worst games as a Nat. I’m not ready to write him and Gooch off yet for new jacks, but definitely time to look at options when the attack finally seems to be coming together.

  20. Very good analysis; thanks Dennis! If we can coach up our defense (esp CBs) to stop ball watching and start man marking, we’ll have a much stronger team.

  21. Well, I’m a little disappointed. I was hoping maybe a 2-1 loss to the Sub 20 Brazil team, but 4-1 is very misleading. We played a little better than what the score indicates.

    With that said. Gooch and Boca must have partied late last night. They were way below their game. Bradley & Jones got better in the 2nd half. Both were just ok in the first. Bradley gave up too many balls in the midfield at times imo. Gomez had two good chances to score and he managed to get one. Props for that. I believe Wondo is not capable of that, so Gomez is a go for me. Boyd looked dangerous but not enough for me to rate him. He did miss a good chance, but the Rafael was just in BEAST mode today. He made Timmy looked like a noob.

    Timmy was awful. Didn’t make one good block.

    Neymar: A total I can’t stand his whinny self. He believes no one should play D on him. smh
    Marcelo: He is a SUPER B%&*. I use to love the old Brazil when they were all humble and fun to watch. Nowadays Brazil is full of thugs.

    Brazilian goal keeper is the player of the game. He saved 3 clear goals.

  22. Ok…here’s how it is or was or whatever….
    Defense looked like a virgin on prom night, ready to give it up for anyone that came knocking. Biggest offenders Gooch (sorry to say that) and the colonial Hun Boca. Where was Tim Ream? Where was Clarence Goodson? Where was Eric Lihaj? These are questions that need answered before 2014.
    Edu has to go. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a loyal Tim, but because our midfield would be the stronger for it. If another defense minded player is needed try out Danny Williams, or switch Torres back and have Bradley play a Xabi Alonoso role. I would like to point out that I said he should play a Xabi Alonso role; I did not compare him or his style of play to Xabi Alonso.
    Lastly….our forwards are young. Give them time. Altidore had his first full season, and plus the guy is a physical animal. Herc is developing as an excellent off the bench option, and Boyd is still practicing with the Bundesliga champions every week.
    Yeah we lost. Get over it. We will get better.
    Klini Ãœber Alles!

  23. maybe a little, but those things happened. Even beyond the obvious mistakes, he looked terrified of having to make a forward pass.

  24. One good thing we’ll get out of this game is coaching points. When they see the film, they’ll see how often the CBs were ball watching and not man marking (which includes Dolo on a couple of give and gos). Brasil marked the man, and as a result we didn’t have nearly as many opportunities or time in the 18. JK should insist that whoever is playing CB must stop ball watching and mark the man. If we do this, we’ll be much more solid on defense. In terms of personnel, I would fault JK for selecting Gooch for CB tonight; this was a quick team playing most of their balls on the ground, and we needed speed at CB–not height.

  25. There are only two things we can take from this match:

    1. We can effectively attack against a top team.

    2. Fabian Johnson is our LB for a long time to come.

  26. Donavon and Dolo copuld not figure out how to avoid the trap the Brazilian defnse set for them on the right side. Multiple times, they tried to move up the touch line into 4 Brazilian defenders who use their numerical superiority, the touch line and quicker feet to disposses the duo. They never figured out that thay must at least some of the time cut inside or pass back centrally, that made them very predictible. I am surprised the coaching staff did not help them out at half-time so it continued into the second half. In contrast, Torres and Johnson on the left managed to avoid getting trapped most of the time by cutting in or passing back and bnot taking up each others space. (also Johnson could dribble past Brazilians, something Dolo did not do)

    You can’t always be the quickest or most skillful player on the field and when that is the case, you have to be smart enough to avoid obvious no-win situations. Sadly, not the case for Donavon and Dolo tonight.

  27. Gooch actually was responsible for 3 goals as he held 2 players onside on two separate occasions. I love the guy but he hasn’t been the same since the knee injury.

  28. Yes I was shocked to see the same set up in the 2nd half. Hopefully Klinsmann learns from this. I think we’re getting closer to seeing the most efficient and dangerous US lineup crafted under Klinsmann or possibly ever. And hopefully, there are still 2 more years to keep improving before BRAZIL!

  29. By the way, lowering the bar for our forwards is exactly what’s wrong with fan expectations today.

    Look at Brazil’s finishing. Then look back at ours.

    Somehow this is “positive” in the view of most USMNT fans. smh

  30. -Apologies for TYPOS. Wrote in haste and didn’t review.

    -Yes, Neymar has more to the game than fancy tricks, but he’s still a bitch who rolls around in pain only to be up and smiling a minute later — like way too many soccer players.

    -My absolute negative statements re: Gomez are more in respond to the over-the-top positive commentary on his performance. Yes, he knocked in a sitter, just like the other goal he was inexplicably praised for a few years ago. But he was TERRIBLE in notable spots, e.g. the backpass to Boca while the US was moving forward that I believe lead to a goal, and the several other chances he botched. He wasn’t all bad but he wasn’t the Man of the Match either.

  31. Quite strong a team – and a team that has had lot of time playing together, and is in the final stages of tuning up for the Olympics.

  32. Please dont disrespect John by grouping him with Ream and Cameron. Ream and Cameron are not dominant defenders ….John is a dominant defender who happens to be big AND quick AND technical AND (most importantly) consistent.
    Cameron and Ream have been mediocre when they haven’t struggled both internationally AND domestically at the position while John has dominated domestically for 3.5 straight years in MLS and has no national appearances so you dont know what he can do on this stage but by his performance here he’s given us no indication that he wouldn’t succeed for the Nats and we all better pray that he does just that when his time is called

  33. This game needed a 4-4-2 badly. When Brazil pressed as the US tried to get out of their defensive third, having two forwards would have split the field in two and given more long ball options. Gomez played good, but he isn’t a pure ST, needs someone bigger/stronger to play with–especially if he is going to track back on defense. Edu didn’t really do much, would much rather have had Boyd (Altidore if available) for longer.

  34. Vraiment que oui.
    Brazil has a player pool of 750-1000, any 11 of which could have played at the level of what “os Canarinhos” showed tonight.
    They are still the master poets of the game,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


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