Coming in as huge underdogs, the United States Men’s National Team fell to Brazil, 2-0 in MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. With an average age of just 23 years old, the Yanks were given little chance of coming away with anything from the match. Brazil capitalized on an individual error from Antonee Robinson and the referee gave Brazil a penalty kick after Oscar-worthy theatrics. The U.S. then held Neymar and company scoreless in the second half of the match but fell to 1-18 in the all-time series.
U.S. Interim Head Coach Dave Sarachan did not present any surprises in his starting XI and the Americans came out exactly how they were expected to. Zack Steffen was in goal, DeAndre Yedlin started at right back, and John Brooks returned to the national stage right into the starting team. The biggest question was who would play up top and Sarachan went with the veteran, Bobby Wood.
This young American side came out pressing up the field and Brazil was on the ball for the majority of the game. The first goal of the match came in the 11th minute when 21-year-old Robinson overcommitted. Douglas Costa had no difficulty in getting around the left back and put in a perfect ball to Roberto Firmino, who lost Matt Miazga and was wide open. Steffen had no chance of keeping the ball out on the shot.
This goal showed the inexperience from Robinson who was awarded just his third international cap. Brazil remained in control of the match after the goal and the U.S. continued to press Brazil’s back line and the Yanks largely held No. 3 ranked team in the world in check.
Anytime that there was a one-on-one, Brazil showed its dominance and beat the American player, but it was strength in numbers for the U.S. The Yanks shifted together and stayed compact and collapsed on Brazil when a Brazilian player got into a dangerous position.
In the 30th minute the U.S. started to hold its first string of possession. The Yanks kept control of the ball well, and showed impressive off-the-ball movement. The U.S. attempted to get the ball wide before putting in crosses. This led to a string of corners in which Brooks was the target every time. Weston McKennie had the best scoring chance of the half when he picked up the loose ball off of Brooks, made a quick move and shot, but Casemiro blocked his shot. The attack ended up dying off when Wood went down in the box holding his head and the official stopped play.
In the 43rd minute, Firmino made a beautiful swan dive in the box. He got by Wil Trapp, lost control of the ball when he met Brooks, and fell to the ground, untouched. The referee bought it and called a penalty kick. Neymar had no difficulty putting it away, after a stutter-step run-up that looked awfully close to coming to a complete stop.
Brazil took this two-goal lead into halftime and overall the first 45 minutes were exactly as expected. Still, as easily as Brazil scored both goals, the U.S. could have just as easily gone into the half tied, as it was an individual mistake and poor officiating that put Brazil ahead. The U.S. held just 34% possession but the Yanks finished with just as many shots as Brazil (6).
Neither team made any of the six changes that they had available to start the second half. This led to the second 45 looking exactly like the first, and Brazil should have gotten its third goal in the 51st minute. Costa played a perfect through ball to Neymar, who tried to get it around Steffen. The American ‘keeper got just enough on it to slow the ball down before Miazga cleared the ball off the line.
Both teams had chances just after the 70th minute. First, Trapp took a shot from distance that forced Alisson into a diving save. The Brazilian keeper then punched away the ensuing corner. Brazil went on a counter but Robinson was able to end the attack.
To end the game, Brazil remained in possession of the ball and the U.S. struggled to get many more looks at goal. The U.S. finished with 35% possession but had just one fewer shot than Brazil (12-11). It was a good learning experience for these young players, who play again in four days against Mexico.
While the result was missing, there were promising signs from young, inexperienced players and that is what these friendlies are about.