Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
USA's focus is on Brazil
by Ridge Mahoney, June 18th, 2009 7AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily



[CONFEDERATIONS CUP] To keep alive its slim hopes of advancing to the Confederations Cup semifinals, the USA must at least accomplish something it has never done at this level when it faces Brazil Thursday (9:55 a.m. ET, ESPN2, TeleFutura) in Tshwane/Pretoria.

Get a tie.

Its chances of doing so look remote, yet while beating Egypt, 4-3, in its opening game Monday, the Brazilians at least seemed vulnerable defensively while typically relentless on the attack. And despite starting the tournament by losing to Italy, 3-1, the Americans performed creditably while down a man for nearly an hour against the world champion.

Aside from that incredible 1-0 victory in the 1998 Concacaf Gold Cup semifinals, the USA has always faltered against Brazil. The all-time record is 1-12-0, though nine of those defeats have been by a single goal. A 4-2 loss two years ago in a friendly at Soldier Field in Chicago featured an early goal by Carlos Bocanegra that provided a 1-0 lead and a strike by Clint Dempsey in the second half that briefly tied the match at 2-2. Ronaldinho scored two minutes later to restore the natural order, and Elano converted a penalty kick in stoppage time.

Though that match was a friendly, and this competition, at least officially, is an official FIFA tournament, Brazil's level of motivation against Egypt left something to be desired.

"We know their talent," said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley during a press conference Wednesday. "We played them in September of 2007, and the way they play remains very similar to that. Many of the players are the same. In particular, the incredible movement of Robinho and Kaka in conjunction with whoever they choose to play up front -- in the last game that was Luis Fabiano and Elano -- those are attackers who are extremely mobile, creative, and very dangerous.

"As much as they're an attacking team, it's a team that still understands, for sure, how to defend, how to close down. Any time you put players like Gilberto Silva and Felipe Melo in front of Juan and Lucio, those are good starting points."

Kaka scored two goals against Egypt, including a stoppage-time penalty kick that deprived the Pharaohs of a most deserved result. Juan and Luis Fabiano also scored, and each of those goals were needed to stave off an admirable Egyptian effort. "Egypt did an incredible amount of hard running in that game," says Bradley. "They weren't afraid in the right moments to pressure Brazil, and if Brazil beat the pressure, they ran very hard to recover and get back and take care of things. They attacked well.

"When you play Brazil, they're an attacking team but you have to be able to attack them as well. When they are defending with six, there are spaces to attack."

Regardless of tactics, history and mathematics are heavily tilted against the Americans, no matter who Bradley chooses to field. Bocanegra, sidelined by a strained hamstring Monday, is listed as questionable. Midfielder Ricardo Clark, whose foolish, high tackle on Gennaro Gattuso removed him from the Italy game in the 34th minute, will serve his suspension in this one.

From the U.S. perspective, it is facing another elite team, albeit the one usually regarded as the best of the best. A result against Italy or Brazil was needed in any case, and only one of those opponents remains, and those two teams have yet to play each other.

The tepid form of Dempsey in the past few games gives rise to speculation he could be replaced by Freddy Adu, though Bradley could play Landon Donovan at right mid, give DaMarcus Beasley another shot on the left side, and try Charlie Davies or Conor Casey as a front-line partner for Jozy Altidore. Still, Adu remains an option in one of the attacking slots, and Jose Francisco Torres deserves to get some time in midfield, particularly with Clark suspended and Pablo Mastroeni not in the squad.

Three years ago at the World Cup, few would have forecast the U.S. getting a 1-1 tie with Italy in its second game. This scenario is much the same.

"Having played in a few tournaments in this format now, the first game is definitely important, but equally important is our next game, and we still have a chance to advance if we can get a result," says Donovan, who converted a penalty kick won by Altidore against Italy. "We learned in 2006 after losing to Czech Republic in the [World Cup] first game and only getting a point out of the second game still gives us a chance to advance against Ghana in the third game.

"Italy is gone now. It was a good opportunity but now it's gone, and we have to focus on Brazil."

No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now



Recent Soccer America Daily
Newcomers debut for U.S. U-17s boys in pair of wins    
In their first games since Coach John Hackworth named the 32-player roster for the fall semester ...
Video Pick: A fowl field invasion    
A duck's crash landing interrupted a Bulgarian league game despite goalkeeper Nikolay Bankov's best efforts to ...
What They're Saying: Political science professor Fabio Wanderley Reis    
"People are not feeling represented and candidates like [Joao Leite and Alexandre Kalil], with very little political ...
USL: Nashville SC hires SUM exec Jeske    
Court Jeske, who spent eight years at MLS and Soccer United Marketing as vice president, international ...
MLS: Brad Davis joins vets who are retiring    
Brad Davis, a six-time MLS all-star and two-time MLS champion, announced Sunday that he will retire ...
NASL Rewind: Rayo OKC surges in playoff race    
With one week left in the NASL regular season, Rayo OKC, the Oklahoma club that in ...
Video Pick: Kaka finishes with golazo    
Kaka's second MLS season also ended without a playoff bid, but the Brazilian superstar is a ...
MLS Power Rankings: Red Bulls finish on top    
FC Dallas took the Supporters' Shield by repeating its 60-point performance of 2015, but the New ...
What They're Saying: Jeff Agoos    
"I think the irony that people don't realize about Bruce is he is the most loyal ...
By the Numbers: MLS playoff teams since All-Star Game    
The MLS All-Star break isn't a "break" in the sense that the MLB All-Star Game is ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives