[USA-BRAZIL] At least 70,000 people are paying an average of $65 to watch the USA in action for the first time since the World Cup in South Africa. That the opponent is Brazil and the venue is the New Meadowlands Stadium -- a $1.6 billion structure completed just four months ago -- makes it one of the most anticipated exhibition games in recent memory.
Coach Bob Bradley, who isn’t sure whether he’ll be in charge after his contract runs out in December, gathered a squad that includes 15 members of the 2010 World Cup team.
Tuesday’s game (8 pm ET, ESPN2 & Univision) is a better opportunity to give a home crowd a World Cup encore than to introduce new players into the squad.
“When you only have a day to prepare for a game,” Bradley said, “It’s not always easy to bring young players in who have not yet represented the United States and then one day later, putting them on the field, especially against a team like Brazil.”
Besides, Bradley says, the veterans are still very motivated to continue their international careers.
“And the opportunity for any player to play against Brazil in their career is special,” he says.
The USA’s foreign-based have flown back just as they’ve begun preseason training – or in captain Carlos Bocanegra’s case after playing his first league game, with France’s Saint-Etienne.
For the team’s biggest star, Landon Donovan, who scored three goals at the World Cup, the game is a test of his endurance.
He played an MLS game for his Los Angeles Galaxy just one week after the USA was knocked at in the round of 16 by Ghana on June 26. In the last 20 days, Donovan has played in two Concacaf Champions League games – which included a trip to Puerto Rico – two MLS games, the MLS All-Star Game and a friendly against Real Madrid last Saturday.
“When you get all the different entities together everybody wants to get in a game that is helpful for their situation,” Donovan said. “For us players sometimes we get pulled around quite a bit and I think personally there should be a little closer attention paid to how many games players are playing.
“Players are not machines. There’s only so much they can do. That being said, I don’t think there’s any doubt in any one’s mind this is the kind of game players want to play in. For us as players, the opportunity to play Brazil at any point is special.”
New Brazil coach Mano Menezes has brought only three players from the squad that was knocked out in the World Cup quarterfinals: Robinho, Dani Alves and Ramires. But the roster includes young stars Alexandre Pato, Neymar and Paulo Henrique Ganso.
The team also looks much different than the one Bradley’s team led 2-0 at halftime in the 2009 Confederations Cup final before falling, 3-2.
“It is a different Brazil team,” Bradley said. “But we all know when we step on the field against Brazil there are certain things that will always take place. They have tremendous ability with the ball. They’re always an athletic team.
“Our challenge is how to deal with that, how to still be good with the ball, how to create chances. We know how Pato and Robinho and these players go about their business and we understand from our end what we need to do to be successful.”
In 15 encounters with Brazil since 1930, the USA has lost 14 and won once. The victory came in 1998, a 1-0 triumph in Los Angeles when Brazil was Gold Cup guest team.