By Alex Labidou, Goal.com
After showing signs of improvement over the past few months, the United States was brought back to reality by Brazil in a crushing 4-1 victory at Fed Ex Field.
Brazil's highly-coveted sensation Neymar got the Seleção rolling by scoring on a penalty called by Costa Rican referee Jeffrey Calderon. Thiago Silva, Marcelo and Alexandre Pato added a goal each. Hercules Gomez scored for the U.S.
Although the U.S. came into the exhibition match as the underdog, there was some optimism for the Red, White and Blue. Jurgen Klinsmann's men scored five goals against Scotland in a 5-1 victory and prior to that match shocked Italy in a 1-0 away win.
The U.S. opened the match in a similar fashion to the way it did in previous matches. Gomez was given his first appearance and start by the Stars and Stripes since the World Cup and his teammates tried to create opportunities for the in-form Santos Laguna striker. But then Brazil turned to the samba style that is its national calling card.
Hulk dribbled into the box, beating both the U.S. center backs and forcing an aerobatic save from Tim Howard, with the American keeper jumping to block the curling shot with his fingertips. Howard wouldn't stop Brazil's next scoring opportunity. Leandro Damiao blasted a shot towards goal that was blocked by Oguchi Onyewu's right arm in the 12th minute. Replays show that Onyewu didn't intentionally handle, but referee Calderon sided with the visitors.
Neymar calmly tucked the penalty past Howard.
The U.S. tried to fight its way back into the game but Brazil's debutant goalkeeper Rafael had a magnificent match, making one big stop after another. The shot-stopper had five saves in his first appearance for Brazil. Klinsmann's miseries were compounded when Silva took advantage of some poor defending in the box to score on a corner in the 26th minute.
Just before half, the Red, White and Blue showed signs of life. Michael Bradley's through ball validated Fabian Johnson's run, and the left back found Gomez with a low cross. The striker stooped to head the ball with a precise finish in the 45th minute, giving the U.S. hope as it entered the second half.
"I think the team reacted very well," Klinsmann said of falling behind early. "They fought and got themselves back in the game. They scored that goal, and we wanted to avoid a third goal coming out for the second half."
Yet in the final 45 minutes, Brazil showed that the U.S. has a lot of work to do if it hopes to join the ranks of the elite. Real Madrid defender Marcelo scored in the 55th minute with a close-range finish in the box to seal Brazil's win. Substitute forward Pato then showed why he was once considered a promising prospect, getting a cross from Marcelo and staying onside to rifle past Howard in the 87th minute.
"The fourth goal, my information is the guy was two yards offside," Klinsmann said of Pato's late strike. "So you’re talking about a goal that’s two yards offside and a penalty that may not be, so it kind of pisses me off to be honest."
Despite the final scoreline, the United States appeared to be a better team offensively than the squad that lost to Brazil 2-0 in 2010 in a friendly.
"From a performance point of view I think we saw many good elements, many good things," Klinsmann said.
The team had several chances that kept Brazil on its back heel but just couldn't finish thanks to Silva and goalkeeper Rafael. In the 63rd minute, the keeper swatted away two consecutive shots by Gomez and Terrence Boyd, killing the U.S. rally. Klinsmann can also take solace in the fact that he was finally able to play his two top stars Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey together, even if it was for the game's final 30 minutes.
The U.S. actually had an advantage on shots taken with 17 shots as opposed to Brazil's 13.
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