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USA takes losing streak into Brazil friendly
by Ridge Mahoney, September 7th, 2007 7AM

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Instead of playing Mexico at the Azteca Stadium, a harsh environment for any team, the U.S. national team gets a home game. The catch is, it's against Brazil, which is bringing Ronaldinho and Kaka and a few more of its many stars to the encounter Sunday (4 p.m. ET, ESPN2, Univision) at Soldier Field in Chicago.

 

A dispute between broadcasters holding rights to U.S. home internationals (ESPN and Univision) and those played in the U.S. by Mexico (Telemundo) resulted in a hasty juggling of opponents and venues. Neither broadcaster, technically, held rights to a Mexico-USA game in Azteca but both, apparently, had slotted the game into broadcast schedules.

U.S. Soccer is obligated to provide its broadcast partners a certain number of matches per year - outside of official competitions such as the Gold Cup and Copa America - and rather than scrap the Sept. 9 broadcast window, the respective federations convinced Brazil to play the USA in addition to its match against Mexico at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday.

As a result, the Brazilian players are scheduled to arrive in Chicago Friday - they are traveling individually, not as a team -- and will train just once, on Saturday, before taking on the USA.

The practice session at Toyota Park is open to the public; admission is $20. The cheapest ticket for the match is $40 and ticket sales had topped 30,000 as of midweek.

Defenders Alex Silva of Sao Paulo and Alex of Chelsea were late scratches. Edu Dracena (Fenerbahce) and Gladstone (Sporting Lisbon) were named as replacements by Coach Dunga, whose team upset Argentina, 3-0, in the Copa America final in July and is using games against the USA and Mexico to prepare for the start of CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying in October.

Real Madrid striker Robinho led the Copa America with six goals. Alex Silva was the only player called from the domestic league. Seven countries are represented on the Brazil roster: Spain, Italy, France, Germany, England, Russia, and the Netherlands.

The U.S. has been in camp since Monday, and Coach Bob Bradley has summoned only a few MLS players.

Kansas City is off this week, and in addition to striker Eddie Johnson, who wasn't called last month to face Sweden, uncapped attacker Davy Arnaud is in the squad. Midfielder Kerry Zavagnin was named to replace Colorado's Pablo Mastroeni.

Landon Donovan is the other MLS inclusion and is one of 13 Gold Cup players originally named by Bradley.

Josh Wolff, who was unable to play in the Gold Cup because of lingering injuries, is in the forward pool along with Johnson, Donovan, and Arnaud.

Clint Dempsey comes into the Brazil match off a great performance for Fulham against Tottenham last weekend; he scored Fulham's first goal with a powerful header on a corner kick and set up the goals that brought the Cottagers back from a 3-1 deficit to tie, 3-3.

The USA has lost four straight, all of them away from home: three losses in Venezuela at the Copa America, and a 1-0 loss to Sweden in Gothenburg Aug. 22. Normally, a home game is the best way to halt a losing streak, but not this home game.

 



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