U.S. national soccer team falls to youthful Brazil in exhibition

Brazil midfielder Neymar, left, celebrates his goal with teammate Andre Santos during the first half of an international friendly soccer match against the United States Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010 at New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Brazil midfielder Neymar, left, celebrates his goal with teammate Andre Santos during the first half of an international friendly soccer match against the United States Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010 at New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun - AP)
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By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 11, 2010; 12:09 AM

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - It was the beginning for U.S. defender Omar Gonzalez and Brazilian forward Neymar, and perhaps the end for American Coach Bob Bradley.

In the first match for both teams since contrasting World Cup experiences, Brazil introduced its latest teenage sensation. Gonzalez, a former Maryland Terrapin, made his debut, and Bradley oversaw his 67th and maybe last game after nearly four years of service.

Neymar, with his hair cut in a tall mohawk and nimble feet fluttering like a hummingbird's wings, scored in the 28th minute and Brazil outpaced and outperformed the United States for a 2-0 victory in a friendly before 77,223 spectators at New Meadowlands Stadium.

Alexandre Pato, another emerging young star, added the other goal just before halftime as Brazil spoiled the Americans' homecoming from South Africa and defeated them for the 15th time in 16 all-time meetings.

Although Bradley's contract runs through the end of the year, a decision on his future is expected in the coming weeks. The Americans are scheduled to play two friendlies in October and possibly another in November.

Despite the uncertainty - Will the U.S. Soccer Federation offer him a new deal? Will he receive offers from elsewhere? - Bradley said that he will be "thinking later tonight about those games. There will be discussions [with the USSF] and we will figure out what the future means. But while I am on the job, we are constantly working for the next game."

While Bradley called on several World Cup veterans to face Brazil, which was upset in the quarterfinals by eventual runner-up Netherlands, he also turned to Gonzalez, a center back with the Los Angeles Galaxy who is less than two years removed from the University of Maryland.

"My first cap against Brazil, I couldn't believe it," he said. "The biggest challenge was staying focused the whole time. Everything is faster at this level."

In a period of transition after the World Cup disappointment, Brazil and new coach Mano Menezes brought an experimental squad that included only four South Africa holdovers. With their riches, however, the Brazilians don't experience drop-offs, just different personalities.

This affair afforded them the opportunity to introduce Neymar, allow rising star Ramires to orchestrate the attack in place of the injured Kaka, and provide a forum for Pato, 20, who was left off the World Cup roster by a coach, Dunga, who preferred grittier, older subjects.

The Americans were full of promise. Landon Donovan collected Edson Buddle's penetrating pass in the third minute and cleverly touched the ball past David Luiz. He bounced off a challenge and kept his balance in pursuit of the ball in the box when a fall might have drawn a penalty kick. Before he could track it, though, Andre Santos provided clearance.

"The guy fouled me," Donovan said. "I tried to stay up. They always encourage us not to dive and you try to do the right thing, but you've got to rely on the ref to make the call. Maybe next time I will go down and get the sure penalty."


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