EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions below are those of Soccer Outsider Jeff Maurer and not Soccer Insider Steven Goff.
The game against Scotland was supposed to be a fairly hard test. As it turned out, if it was a test, it was one of those mail-in tests where you draw a turtle and then immediately get admitted to an online art school that charges $3000 per class. We won 5-1, so I guess we drew the heck out of that metaphorical turtle, but I wish the test had been a bit harder.
Tonight should be a better test — Brazil are widely recognized as kind of a good soccer team. The sport is somewhat popular in Brazil. They have Neymar, who — in my opinion — is kinda good (that’s the kind of expert analysis you can only get here!). They have rumored Chelsea target Hulk, who is also kinda good. Fun fact: I just Googled “Hulk Brazil” and got a million links to this story about a man in Brazil who dressed up like the Incredible Hulk by painting himself with industrial strength paint. Read it — it’s far more entertaining than anything I’m likely to write.
Tonight’s lineup: Howard | Johnson, Bocanegra, Onyewu, Cherundolo | Edu, Bradley, Jones | Torres, Donovan, Gomez. Only two changes from the team that beat Scotland: Onyewu in for Cameron and Gomez in for Boyd. Dempsey is on the bench, so hopefully we will have an end to the “no Donovan and Dempsey on the field at the same time under Klinsmann” line tonight. If Klinsmann subs Dempsey for Donovan, then he’s just screwing with us.
Here’s kickoff from FedEx Field. I’m having another one of those moments where I wish I never left D.C....
2’ - The USA’s new shirts suddenly have blue numbers instead of beige. I complained about this in my last post, and Nike changed it. The influence of this blog knows no bounds! I demand that there be a Designing Women movie! The blog has spoken...make it so!
9’ - Penalty kick for Brazil! Onyewu called for a hand ball. That is harsh. Very harsh. His hand was away from his body but was in close by the time the ball hit it. I wouldn’t have called that. Let’s remember: part of preparing for the World Cup is preparing to deal with terrible refereeing.
11’ - Goal! 1-0 Brazil. Neymar puts the spot kick away. There’s your Neymar highlight: a penalty kick not entirely dissimilar from a thousand others you’ve seen. Disappointing in so many ways.
12’ - Edu gets a decent look but puts it about 10 yards wide. Could it be that Maurice Edu only looks good when playing against Scotsmen?
17’ - Howard with a great one-on-one save against Leandro! Howard is not at all happy that there was no offside call there. You always know when Howard is angry — he is one of the worst people in the world at hiding his displeasure. I think the top four in that category are Bruce Banner, John McCain, me, and Tim Howard.
19’ - We’re timid and tentative, especially in defense. Very different than the Scotland match (or the Italy match, for that matter). I’m not sure if our guys are tired or if they’re just respecting Brazil too much.
24’ - Bocanegra almost got his head on a free kick! Remember that year that Bocanegra scored more Premier League goals than Andriy Shevchenko? I’ll bet Roman Abramovich does.
25’ - Goal Brazil! It’s Thiago Silva, who has been so good for so long that you’d think he would have dropped one of those names. Nobody marked him — especially not Jermaine Jones — and he got his head on a corner kick.
26’ - Brazil have scored off a penalty kick and a corner kick. Nobody wants to see Brazil score off of set plays! This is Brazil, not Stoke City! I want to see 20-plus touches before a goal, not a center back heading in from three yards out.
28’ - Donovan gets a chance and snatches at it. This is typical of how we’re playing — we look nervous, not ourselves. When we get a chance, we blow it. We’re playing like a bad team.
37’ - Gomez beats his man on the dribble, but then plays a 40-yard back pass, and two seconds later Brazil have the ball. Ugh. But that’ll go in Gomez’ stats as a completed pass, showing again why soccer stats are mostly uselss.
44’ - Goal USA! Johnson with a great run down the flank, and his cross is headed home by Gomez! Okay: 2-1. Better. And it’s nice to see that Gomez can score against someone other than MLS clubs in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Halftime: The U.S. attack hasn’t been completely ineffective; we’ve been committing numbers forward, as is Klinsmann’s style. But we’re also lucky that Brazil don’t have one or two more.
47’ - Gomez tracks back 40 yards to defend. Man, I love it when strikers do that. Or at least: I love it when strikers who aren’t me do that. I’m not leaving the penalty box — this is rec league, yo.
51’ - Goal Brazil! Man - Brazil are more deadly on the counter than Aldo Nadi (he’s a fencer, and yes, I had to Google that, but how floored are you by that reference if you’re a fencing fan?). The whole move never should have happened — Jones was fouled at the beginning of the sequence.
57’ - There: Dempsey is in, and so is Donovan. Dempsey and Donovan on the field at the same time in the Jurgen Klinsmann era. Also D.C. United have recently won two games in a row, so we can stop pointing out both of those things now.
62’ - Romulo (full name: Mitt Romulo) clears a Gomez header off the line! So close — Dempsey almost poked it in.
66’ - Pato off the post for Brazil. The U.S. are pushing now, and there are chances at both ends. Maybe the U.S. scores a goal or two, but more likely we see why teams don’t press too much, especially against a team like Brazil.
76’ - Great move by Dempsey, Gomez and Boyd, and it takes an amazing save by Rafael to keep Boyd’s shot out! In Brazil they say that if you’re any good then you wouldn’t be a ‘keeper, but that’s some pretty great work by Rafael.
81’ - Brazil are a different team when they don’t need a goal — they sit back and look to hit you on the counter. But, like I said they don’t need a goal...they just want one. But they want it to come off a 70-yard move that happens in four seconds.
85’ - In the past minute, a Bradley header produced another great save from Rafael and Onyewu slammed a header off the bar. Frustrating and encouraging at the same time.
87’ - Pato scores for Brazil! 4-1. Not a fair score line — a fair score line would be 5-3, but then again that’s a stupid thing to argue about, isn’t it?
Full time: 4-1 Brazil. Well: we learned that Brazil are not Scotland. Personally, I always get Brazil and Scotland confused — the food, the weather, the women. They’re dopplegangers. As for the U.S., it was a sub-par performance that should provide motivation to show a little better against Canada.
Howard: 6.5. Yes, he gave up four goals, but none were his fault. He did well on plays he could actually make.
Johnson: 6.5. Without a doubt the most encouraging thing to come out of these two friendlies.
Bocanegra: 4.5. Defending was fine, but his passing was uncharacteristically sloppy.
Onyewu: 4. He did not look comfortable. Although he did win everything in the air, because being uncomfortable does not make you shorter.
Cherundolo: 5. He wasn’t the problem, but he was also too busy to get forward.
Edu: 5. He got forward a lot more than last match - I have to think Klinsmann said something to him.
Jones: 3.5. There’s a Seinfeld episode where Jerry dates a “two-face.” That’s Jones.
Bradley: 4.5. He was all over the place, as usual, but also gave the ball away in some bad spots.
Torres: 3.5. He’s either good or invisible.
Donovan: 4. If I scored a hat trick I’d party until I had a four-day hangover, too, so no worries, Lando.
Gomez: 6.5. Against Scotland we saw Boyd, and tonight we saw Gomez, so if you’re basing a decision on those performances then you have to pick Gomez. But really it’s going to be Altidore as soon as he’s ready to go.
Dempsey: 5.5. He needs to play his way into form, but the upcoming schedule allows him to do exactly that. He should be clicking by the Guatemala match.
Boyd: 5.5. Played better than on Saturday. He doesn’t seem intimidated by the big stage.
Parkhurst: 4.5. The first thing he did was to get pantsed by Neymar on national television. In high-def. Right in front of an on-field camera. Soccer can be cruel sometimes.
Castillo and Beckerman: no rating.
More on the match: