[MY VIEW] Brazil gave its fans much cause for encouragement for the 2014 World Cup by outclassing the U.S., 2-0, at the New Meadowlands Stadium Tuesday.
The formation chosen by Coach Mano Menezes didn’t matter, since so fluidly and crisply did Brazil move the ball it always had players near it.
If a long ball or middle-distance pass was on, it was played sharply, yet always players were nearby in support.
Robinho floated throughout midfield to prompt attacks or orchestrate rapid one-touch moves that the Americans chased but seldom caught up with the ball.
After losing to Brazil, 4-2, at Soldier Field three years ago, U.S. coach Bob Bradley likened the experience to being fleeced at the shell game, whereby a ball is moved quickly underneath shells or cups to conceal its location.
Tuesday’s game was more like keep-away, with Robinho, Neymar and Ramires relaying balls and interchanging positions.
Lucas buttressed the action, often serving as the outlet if a sequence looked in danger of collapsing, which didn’t often happen. Alexandre Pato served as point man, shifting in sync with his teammates and netting the second goal in first-half stoppage time when Ramires played him through one-v-one against keeper Tim Howard.
Brazil’s dominance on the flanks sapped the Americans of energy as they worked constantly from side-to-side to mirror the movement of Robinho, whose timing and touches provided Brazil with an extra man the Americans could not mark. His pass down the left side provided Andre Santos the time and space to deliver a cross that Neymar crashed home in the 28 th minute for Brazil’s first goal.
Only several good saves by second-half goalie Brazil Guzan kept the score close.
By contrast, the Americans labored to keep possession in the Brazilian half.
A sharp move in the opening minutes sent Landon Donovan into the box, where a bump by Thiago Silva knocked him off-stride, but not much else caused the Brazilian back line any concern. Brazil’s incisive attacks ruled the evening, yet Menezes’ young team also closed space and stepped to the ball smartly while defending.
A clever offside trap caught Michael Bradley to annul his finish of a nice servicing ball from Jonathan Spector.
From this showing, Brazil’s four-year cycle to hosting the next World Cup is off to a good start. What direction the USA is headed is much less clear.