Did anyone really think the United States men’s national team would take out Brazil in Foxborough, Mass. on Tuesday night? While expectations for a win were low, expectations of being at least competitive were high.
Instead, the USMNT were flat out the gate and horrendous in defense in the second half, en route to being blown out 4-1 by one of the world’s best soccer sides. Only a 91st minute wonder strike from distance by Danny Williams saved the Yanks from being blanked in its final tune up before the CONCACAF Cup tilt against Mexico in October.
The loss also happened to be the worst on U.S. soil since an identical 4-1 defeat to the Brazilians three years ago. Worse yet, it came on the heels of a questionable at best performance against Peru on Friday night.
Even getting captain Michael Bradley back had little effect as the Brazilians bossed the game around. However, don’t expect the players to push the panic button based on this game alone, at least according to Bradley.
“We didn’t think we were the best team in world when we beat Netherlands and Germany in the friendlies in June, and we don’t think we’re the worst team in the world right now,” captain Michael Bradley said after the match, via ESPNFC.
“We just have to maintain a level head and be able to look at things in a reasonable way. At the end of the day, this game is not the be-all, end-all for us this year.”
Bradley has a point, since this game counts null on the grand scheme of international competition, but it did serve as a reminder of the gulf in style, class and play between one of the world’s best sides and the USMNT.
While it may have seemed like Bradley and his teammates were shrugging off the loss, that’s not what Bradley truly meant in his post-game comments.
“I don’t think we handled it as well as we should have,” Bradley said. “I’m not trying to just sweep it under the rug completely.”
Yet, it sure seemed like that was the case or at the very least it was a way of trying to tell themselves that everything was still right and that this side was on track for what it needed to accomplish in the near future.
It’s no secret that the Yanks want to be known as one of the better sides in the world, not just the kings of CONCACAF. However, with that Oct. 10th date with Mexico in the not-so distant future, this loss gave more cause for concern than hope for a victory.
Mexico is a side not unlike Brazil in the fact that they look to boss possession and exploit deep runs against the back line. It was exactly what was exposed in this matchup, and it started early and kept on going all night long at Gillette Stadium.
It all went downhill after a 9th minute strike from Hulk, which put his side up 1-0 with this strike:
It would only lead to the USMNT shrinking more and more in to a defensive posture and to Brazil flat out dominating possession. Much of the latter was to be expected, as that is the Brazilian way of things, but the utter lack of any sort of possession by the USMNT left manager Jurgen Klinsmann no choice but to make a substitution before the 1st half whistle sounded — subbing midfielder Alejandro Bedoya for Danny Williams in the 36th minute.
That move, nor any of the other substitutions seemed to matter — at least on the USMNT side of the ledger. Instead, it was the Brazilian’s bringing on the more dangerous options at the half in the form of star striker Neymar.
It didn’t take long for the one of the world’s most famous players to make his name felt on the game. He would get his name on the scoreboard in the 51st minute after drawing a foul in the box by Geoff Cameron, slotting the ensuing penalty kick just past the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Neymar was just getting started, as that proved to be the game-winner, and he would put an emphasis on the game with his second goal in the 67th minute making it 4-0 and putting the USMNT in to a miserable mood.
Only a great strike by Williams in stoppage time served as a bright spot for this squad.
Klinsmann gave the platitudes of “not the result we wanted” and this game was a “lesson,” which were understatements to say the least. Mainly, the USMNT put on a massive display in what not to do if you want to be competitive against anyone in the game of soccer.
Allowing massive amounts of uninterrupted possession against a team that loves to lull you to sleep and hit you with deep runs is a recipe for disaster. So is making mistakes against world-class strikers like Hulk and Neymar are.
There’s also the lesson that the USMNT still lacks consistency in the middle of the defense, has to find a holding midfielder and needs consistent effort up top.
With not only the CONCACAF Cup coming up in October, but the start of 2018 World Cup qualifying in November, the USMNT needs to learn the lessons from this match quickly or it could be a long end to the 2015 calendar year.