Brazil defeated the U.S. 4-1 in a fiercely contested friendly at the FedEx Field in Landover, Md., last night. The match showcased some clinical finishing by the Brazilians, phenomenal goalkeeping by Brazil's Rafael and an outstanding performance by their left back Marcelo. Brazil coach Mano Menezes fielded the same squad that played in Saturday's friendly against Denmark with the exception of Neymar starting for Lucas Moura and Santos goalkeeper Rafael in lieu of Jefferson. The U.S.'s Jürgen Klinsmann, meanwhile, opted for attackers Landon Donovan and Hercules Gomez in front of midfielders Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Maurice Edu and Jose Torres.
Brazil dominated possession in the first half and maintained constant pressure against the U.S. back line, making it difficult for the Americans to string together passes in midfield and pose any kind of serious attacking threat. The first goal resulted from an Onyewu handball in the box that led to a penalty which Neymar dispatched in the lower right corner in the 12th minute. Fourteen minutes later, Brazil struck again, this time from a corner kick delivered by Neymar to the head of Thiago Silva, the Brazil captain who scored his first international goal. Brazil continued to press the attack and deny the U.S. possession until minutes before half-time. Fabian Johnson stormed into the box and cut a Bradley pass onto the head of Hercules Gomez, who promptly directed the ball into the back of the net to make the score 2-1 going into half-time. Gomez's goal punctuated a lively first half in which he was involved with the few attacking chances available to the U.S.
Buoyed by their comeback goal late in the first half, the U.S. team came out onto the field with vigor after the break and began to find space as Brazil appeared to have taken their foot off the gas pedal. But in the 52nd minute, a dangerous Hulk-Neymar-Marcelo attack on the left flank ended up in a Neymar cross to Marcelo, who cut diagonally inside from the flank to score Brazil's third goal. Meanwhile, the U.S. went on to create a bevy of dangerous chances in the second half, none of which they were able to convert.
In the 64th minute, substitute Clint Dempsey almost made it 2-2 but his effort from close range, off a Hercules Gomez header, was cleared off the line by some skillful defending from Brazil midfielder Romulo. Similarly, in the 77th minute, Gomez had a shot saved by Rafael, and the Santos keeper rose to the occasion again to deny Boyd on the rebound. With the score at 3-1, Brazil chose to pressure less and hang back and scrappily defend, allowing the Americans to surge forward. Rafael saved the day again, for Brazil, in the 85th minute from a Bradley header, and minutes later, Onyewu headed a cross onto the bar.
Brazil put the icing on the cake in the 87th minute thanks to a cross from Marcelo that found substitute Alexandre Pato on the edge of the area. Pato chested down Marcelo's looping cross, beat the offside trap and clinically fired home Brazil's fourth goal with his first touch, like a true world class striker. The Americans continued to press, particularly down the right flank, but Brazil held on for a well deserved victory against a spirited U.S. team playing at home. Team USA played exciting, threatening soccer in the second half but the match was really lost within 60 minutes thanks to clinical Brazilian finishing and superb possession. Nevertheless, the game will be sure to serve as a reality check of sorts to a U.S. team that, coming into today's friendly, claimed a five-match unbeaten streak including a 5-1 demolition of Scotland and a 1-0 victory against former World Cup champions Italy.
Brazil: Neymar (12, pen); Thiago Silva (26), Marcelo (52), Pato (87)
USA: Gomez (45)
USA: Howard (GK); Cherundolo, Onyewu, Bocanegra, Johnson; Bradley, Jones, Edu; Torres, Donovan, Gomez
Brazil: Rafael Cabral (GK); Danilo, Thiago Silva, Juan, Marcelo; Sandro, Rômulo, Oscar; Neymar, Hulk, Leandro Damião