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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. Since his injury, Gooch has not been the same. He completely lost it under pressure last night. He gave up a penalty, at least 3 unnecessary corner kicks (one of which was almost an own goal on a failed clearance with no one on him), left Cherundolo on an island in a 3v1 situation and held the scorer on sides for the 4th goal. He can’t do it for us when we play teams that we can’t pressure in the midfield. His footwork isn’t there and he lacks recovery speed. BTW, yes Ream has looked pretty good in the PL playing on a depleted team against better teams. Go back and look at our last 5 wins. See how many of them Gooch started in. We have options, although without midfield pressure, it is a tough night for a CB. Make no mistake about it, his positives (not sure if he had any) were crushed by his negatives.

  2. Was that Gooch or Jeff Agoos (or even Bornstein)? It was like watching a bunch of squirrels play with nuts around a tree. What a shame. Gooch had a hand in ALL FOUR of their goals. Central defenders look weak in this bunch. I think if Klinzy wants height this may be a good place for Brek Shea.

  3. IN DEFENCE OF GOOCH. By someone who doesn’t want his ribs broken.

    Sure, blame it on Gooch. That’s easy. The fact is that the game could have easily been 3-3 and Gooch would have been instrumental by jumping out of the gym on that header. Look, did he have a bad game? Yes. Why? Because he’s only had two competitive matches following his two month injury.

    If Gooch can stay healthy for an entire season, all of you will be signing his praises in one year’s time. What’s even more shocking is someone like Boca, who’s been playing all year, making a series of errors. Did he get into his old crappy backwards passing habits? Yes. Why? Gooch was scared to cough it up because Brazil is the best team in the world at pressing defenders on the ball and even other CBs like Cameron and Ream would have been equally scared and coughed it up. This is what the long ball, and Gooch actually has a good long ball, is for.

    The upshot is that you can’t beat Brazil at its own game. Sure, “proactive, attacking football” is nice, and the last two games show that we’re getting much better at it, against teams like this, you need to dig in and counter attack. This is how Chelsea beat Barcelona and won the Champions league. This is how the US team in 2009 beat Spain and almost beat Brazil. Gooch is at his best when he’s defending in compact spaces and can dominate in the air. Which US CBs can hold a high line against Brazil and stop Neymar and Marcelo in open space? Sorry, we don’t have any and I don’t think that any country has those type of defenders. They don’t’ exist.

    In conclusion, Klinsman wanted to test how far the US team has come regarding the new “proactive” style, and I’m actually pretty impressed. However, do we have the CBs to play a high line against Brazil and Spain. No. Not even Germany or France would try some crazy sh** like that (maybe this is what Philip Lamm was talking about when he said that Klinsman lacks tactical sophistication). I hope that if we do meet in Brazil in the WC, that we play them like Chelsea played Barca. With Fabian Johnson, we have a players that can break out and counter.

    Gooch is and always will be “king of the air”. This is his role going forward and will save the US’s a** on many occasions either by clearing or knocking in headers on set pieces. I”ve seen him hold a high line with Sporting, though this isn’t his strong suit, and neither is zonal marking for that matter, he’s much better one v. one, i.e. “Gooch, shut down Hulk and punch him in the ribs”. So, let’s hope for two years of injury free Gooch at Sporting. Having said that Cameron better get his a** over the Europe and play on the highest level.

  4. enjoying reading all these post-game comments, and this is my favorite so far–hits the proverbial nail on the head

  5. Gooch did look scared on the ball. But then, so did Dolo. Neither one can distribute from the back. This is not a new issue with them.

    Edu being played further forward surprised me. My guess is JK did not trust him as the DMC against Brazil. In which case, I’d say don’t start him at all, because he’s ill-suited further up the pitch.

    Still, I’d say they did play virtually even with Brazil in the 2nd half. No, the US didn’t deserve even a tie, but the scoreline flatters Brazil, and as disappointed as I was with the back (excepting Johnson), the rest of the team (minus Edu) played competently.

  6. You are one remedial individual. You do know Brazil was missing 5 starters and 10 bench players. Sub-20?? Yes, it’s what I consider that team. That team in the field will probably be the Olympic team. Most likely it will be! The 20 is sarcasm, but not far from the truth.

    Howard stunk!!! One save & you think he was a game changer. Oooook buddy.

    You are clearly a Noooob. Mejor anda ve tennis Pappa!

  7. Why are you so worried about my opinion. It’s just my opinion.

    Chandler? You taking a few words a bit too deep. Don’t over think, it’s just Futbol.

  8. I think overall the game showed that the US is continuing to make progress.

    The US made some bad mistakes and paid for them. Brazil’s 3rd goal, for example, was the result of terrible defending. There were about 5 guys back and none of them put pressure on the guy with the ball and none of them picked up the open men.

    However, it was nice to see the US play some real soccer and roll the dice. I noticed a lot more dribbling and short passes attempted than they’ve done in the past against high caliber opponents. At times they put together some intelligent offensive sequences.

  9. My fellow US fans you are overall soccer smart. I expected to see a lot more bashing. In the larger scale of things, I think many see that the US is on the road to being a better team.

    As for this game, for me, the US team had a vibe right from the start that they were not going to do well. Intimidated maybe? Of course Brazil played well, but in the 2nd half it was a much better showing.

  10. we really didnt learn much after this game, everyones assumptions turned out to be true in some regard. everyone thinks fabian is the real deal and our other 3 starting backs are over the hill. michael bradley has turned into our center mid of the future, torres has talent but is quite tentative, jones is a goon, edu is in no way tentative and has the 1st touch of a baby elephant, landon floats in and out from game to game, gomez can cause havoc and score a goal from time to time. our biggest causes for concern are obviously in the back, ream gonzalez and chandler sounds a lot better than the 3 old men we have in now. playing these younger backs will give them the time and experience to grow and develop in games such as these (i am no way saying these 3 exact players are the answer but younger players with promise should be given a chance) our 2 cbs looked absolutely miserable tonight and for a while in my eyes. are they good in the air? do they give their heart on the pitch? are they opportunistic defenders who use their bodys to win tackles/block shots? i could go with yes for all of those but that isnt good enough at this level for me.

  11. ..hasn’t done much but play the same awesome D he has throughout his career.

    why speak on a topic your unfamiliar with?
    Oh yeah your on the internet duh

  12. Agreed on all points.

    Tho I still wonder why Edu and Bradley were switched tonight. Clearly both are better at the opposite spot. Edu covering ground and Bradley getting forward. Plus Torres couldn’t get the ball out wide left.It made no sense.

    I like Gooch and hoped sporting had improved him but it was dismal from minute 2.

  13. Never thought I’d be the one sayin, but you’re too negative bro.

    Go ex was good, but is not a 90 minute player.

  14. Donovan did well with his passing, but he is often soft in tackling or challenging on the dribble against a physical player. Which was the case tonight against Marcelo!

  15. This jjraines guy is an idiot. Such stupidity should not be allowed/tolerated. He should go jump in a pool with a radio/ hair dryer for his blasphemy. Seriously…

  16. My thoughts: Brazil will not get better between now and 2014. The USMNT will. This team looked good tonight. Sure we gave up some bad goals but the team hasn’t been together very long and we didn’t have a complete squad. There are at least 2 starting spots to fill between now and Brazil. My guess is we will peak around 2014. With a decent 1st round group draw this is a quarterfinal team.

  17. Don’t see the vast gap. Brazil is better, but the gap is closing. My guess is this is the first time we have ever out shot them. There goalkeeper and defense stepped up big.

  18. I would split Donovan’s game into two parts, from run of play, and set pieces.

    From run of play he had a rough,rough night. A couple of decent passes but lots of turnovers.

    His set piece service was spot on tonight. Nothing wrong with that part of his game.

  19. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Gomez was terrific. The reaction he had to get his head on the ball after the defender deflected it some 5 feet in front of Gomez can only be described as cat-like. That is hard to do.

    He chested down the ball and got a good shot on goal from an acute angle that gave Boyd a chance.

    Finally the ball he headed back across goal that Dempsey nearly scored with is EXACTLY what he should have done. He was fading away from the goal and was able to create a chance for his teammate. Gomez was stellar.

  20. In the old days (BB) we’d just bunkered down and hope to score on a counter. If we tie or lose by 1 goal we’d pat ourselves on the back and say hey it’s Brazil.

    Now we go toe-2-toe and lost by a score line of 4-1.

    I don’t know about you but I preferred losing 4-1 and have a back and forth game because losing 1-0 or 4-1 is still losing.

  21. Uh no, I’ve seen every game post WC in which every comment was ‘Gooch was a beast’, the 8.5 ratings, etc. Distribution wasn’t good tonight. You got me. But guess what-his positives almost always outweigh the negatives. Plus, Geoff Cameroon, Boca, Tim Ream, etc. have all been so convincing right? See what I did there? I decided to ignore Boca’s past couple good games and pigeonhole him for what he did this game! What a fun game.

  22. CBs:
    Seb Hines
    Rookies I can’t name…
    Hopefully some of those guys come through and we’re not waiting for Mobi Fehr or John Anthony Brooks…

  23. Three players:

    Hopefully Chandler returns and gives us a world class RB for the next three cycles… imagine a US team where we don’t have to worry about either fullback position for a decade!

    CB: we have depth but who knows if any of these guys will step up to be international caliber

  24. Forget about the first goal or the last. The second and third were bad defending. All can be corrected. I actually think the USMNT didn’t play bad. At least they were trying to move the ball down the field and attack. In the past they would park the bus and try to counter. It’s going to take time but I like this system better.

    The only thing I didn’t like was that tackle on Neymar by Jones. I think he deserved a red for that one.

  25. LOL Donovan’s goal against Brazil in the 2009 Confederations Cup final was not only (1) a goal and (2) against Brazil, but it was (3) a beautifully executed lightning quicj counterattack with Davies and (4) in the only final of a FIFA tournament that the US has ever been involved in at any level, to give us a 2-0 lead. But don’t let facts stand in the way of you stating your ignorant opinions….

  26. Oh, I forgot one more point – when you have a defense which is too slow and with insufficient talent, then the US midfield has to drop back too defensively and thus you get a 4:1 loss against a very good attacking team.

  27. Dude you know nothing about the sport Gomez played very well. You even contradict yourself. First you wrote he was terrible then he wasn’t that bad. Just shut it. Eat your gummy bears and go play outside on your bike with training wheels.

  28. “Timmy was awful. Didn’t make one good block.”

    Actually he stopped Brazil on a 1 v 1 breakaway early in the game.

    Why do people insist on commenting when they have no idea what they’re talking about.

    How long have guys like Marcelo been on Brazil’s u-20 team, genius?

  29. Agreed. In the past we would have lost 4-1 playing bunker ball. Although our movement didn’t match Brazil, it’s much better play from us than we would have seen in years past.

  30. I think the US forwards and midfield players were very good and were unlucky to not score 2/3 goals. BUT 3 of the 4 backline defenders were responsible for 4 goals (with the goalie also not stopping the last long, narrow shot). So, get rid of Gooch, Boca and Dolo and Klinsi would be able to beat a WC powerhouse team like Brasil! Obviously, great defenders don’t grow on trees and it will take some time to find and train new world class defenders – so start now (Germany has this same problem)!!

  31. Donovan seems to slack in the US’s biggest games. He’s shown greatness against mediocre teams but he’s just not there when it comes to the brazils of the world. First off Donovan was essentially playing a winger position against Marcelo who is a exceptional left back. He shut down donovan the whole night but then again I dont like Donovan taking on people, he’s not that kind of player, he’s more of a distributor and facilitator of the ball. We need him to roam free to link up with the forwards. I think if demps played on that right hand side, he might have been more effective in taking on Marcelo but nonetheless marcelo was spectacular. Edu seems like surplus in that midfield trio, Jones and Bradley are more than capable of handling defensive duties. He was largely invisible this game. I love what bradley does for us in that midfield, he was playing a xabi alonso/pirlo hybrid role. Jones i thought played pretty well, hes got great endurance and always tracks back to help out with the defense.

    I wanna see donovan in the middle of the pitch linking up with the fowards because i think hes a pretty exceptional passer. Hes not a natural winger

  32. From my seat (in my family room) Torres did not look convincing. I’m wondering whether he’ll only be used against lesser or lighter weight opponents.

  33. And worst of all, it was completely unnecessary. His tackle with the first leg was possibly legit and not even a foul. 50-50. But he brought the second leg through deliberately. No reason for it. I fear that depending on JJ will end up hurting us more than it helps.


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