Preview: USA vs. Brazil
USA vs. Brazil, international friendly
Where: New Meadowlands Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
When: 8 p.m. ET
All-time series: Brazil lead 14-1-0
The lone US victory in this series came in the 1998 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Since that improbable victory, the Americans have lost seven straight matches to the Brazilians, including their last meeting in the 2009 Confederations Cup final, a 3-2 come-from-behind win for the Seleção. The last match on US soil came in 2007 as the USA put up a fight against Kaká & Co. but still lost 4-2.
The US have been outscored 29-10 in their all-time matches against Brazil. Seven of the 10 goals by the US have come in the last eight matches of the series dating back to 1998. The other three American tallies came in a friendly in 1930.
ESPN2 (English) & Univisión (Spanish)
An established US squad, boasting 15 of 18 players coming off participation in the 2010 World Cup, faces a new-look Brazil squad with only four holdovers from South Africa and 10 players getting their very first call-up.
While the match will mark the debut of Brazil manager Mano Menezes, it could represent the farewell for US head coach Bob Bradley, who is rumored to be a frontrunner for the vacated manager position at Aston Villa.
The US are savoring the opportunity to face a young Brazil team on home soil in front of more than 65,000 fans in a brand new venue. A victory would continue the momentum and excitement generated in the US run to the second round of the 2010 World Cup. In the lead-up, Bob Bradley spoke of wanting to see his team continue to improve its ability to manage different game situations on the international stage on both sides of the ball.
The US feature the same forward corps of their World Cup campaign, with Jozy Altidore and Robbie Findley likely starting ahead of Herculez Gomez and Edson Buddle. Both Altidore and Findley are coming off goal-scoring performances for their clubs with Findley netting the equalizer in Kansas City on Saturday and Altidore finding the back of the net in a friendly for Spanish team Villarreal.
Probable starting lineup: Tim Howard; Jonathan Bornstein, Carlos Bocanegra, Clarence Goodson, Steve Cherundolo; Sacha Kljestan, Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Landon Donovan; Jozy Altidore, Robbie Findley
Keys to the Game
- Stop the Brazil transition. The Americans must use tactical “professional” fouls if need be to give an opportunity for the team to organize itself behind the ball on Brazilian counterattacks.
- Take advantage of set pieces. This Brazil side is coming together for the very first time and may not be as organized defending dead ball situations.
Menezes is charged with giving Brazilians hope that his Seleção can live up to the expectations of winning with style. The nation’s quarterfinal elimination in South Africa coupled with the fact that the team played a speculative brand of soccer did not please the fans back home.
As Brazil is hosting the next World Cup, there are already great expectations to win the trophy on home soil. For Menezes, the chance to meet those expectations begins with this match.
Menezes indicated that he will play a 4-3-3 with the Santos duo of Robinho and Neymar flanking AC Milan striker Pato, who did not appear in his club’s match last Friday against Panathinaikos in Detroit. The young Brazilian players will have a lot to prove to the manager that they should remain in consideration when the real competitions begin and the veteran European players like Júlio César, Maicon and Kaká return to the fold.
Probable starting lineup: Victor – André Santos, David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Dani Alves – Lucas, Ramires, Paulo Henrique Ganso – Robinho, Alexandre Pato, Neymar
Keys to the Game
- Capitalize on counterattacks. Menezes has emphasized that he wants his team to transition quickly from defense to attack. They have the players to do it.
- Expose the slower US center backs. Carlos Bocanegra, Clarence Goodson and Omar Gonzalez can be victimized in one-on-one situations should the likes of Neymar and Robinho pinch inside.
- Entertain. It’s not enough to win this match. The Brazilians need to restore the faith of a nation by capturing victory in style with quick touches, creativity and magic.
Heroes & Villains
Neymar vs. Jonathan Bornstein: Two years ago in East Rutherford, the US left back registered a memorable performance against Lionel Messi of Argentina in a 0-0 tie at the old Giants Stadium. This task will be a bit easier as Neymar is still only 18, who is more flash than substance—there is a reason European clubs have not snapped him up just yet from Santos despite the rumors that have been flying.
Jozy Altidore vs. Alexandre Pato: These players were the starting center forwards for their respective countries squared off at the 2007 U-20 World Cup. Altidore came out on top in that match with two goals as the USA took a 2-1 group-stage victory. But Pato wound up at Milan while Altidore is struggling to find a game in Europe. The two will likely be on opposing ends of the field once again with Altidore keen on outshining the Rossoneri star yet again.
Stat that makes you go “Hmm…"
At the 2010 World Cup playing from behind was the US team’s downfall as the opposition took the lead inside the first 13 minutes in three of the Americans’ four matches. They cannot afford a slow start against Brazil.