Brazil got a goal from Ronaldinho and support from a raucous anti-American crowd of about 62,000. The U.S. team got a 1-0 defeat, but claimed a victory of sorts in holding back the offense of the more seasoned Brazilian side.
The United States also improved its chances of advancing to the semifinals of the Confederations Cup. The Brazilians are almost ensured a berth.
"I'm happy with the performance but not satisfied with the result," said Coach Bruce Arena. "We have to win these kinds of games."
Brazil scored the winner in the 13th minute, when Serginho found an unmarked Ronaldinho in the penalty area. His shot ricocheted off the far post and past a helpless Kasey Keller into the net.
Yet the U.S. team outplayed the Brazilians, dominating possession for much of the game and taking many shots on goal. It had some golden chances, most notably in the 71st minute, when a penalty kick taken by Joe-Max Moore was saved by Dida. Moore got the ball to the corner, but Dida guessed right and came up with a spectacular save to preserve the win.
"I just didn't get enough of it," said a clearly distraught Moore. "I feel I let the entire team down. Our goal was to get points and I didn't do my part."
Because the U.S. team kept the match close, it needs only a tie with Germany, which it faces Friday, to be ensured a spot in the semifinals.
The fans chanted "Brazil! Brazil!" throughout the game, erupting with every Brazilian offensive move and booing when the Americans got the ball.
But the Americans were unperturbed. John Harkes continued to undergo a remarkable rebirth, steering the team from his midfield position. Other U.S. players who have struggled of late -- Cobi Jones, Ernie Stewart, Frankie Hejduk -- were up for this contest. Stewart, running up the far flank, narrowly missed scoring in the 31st minute off a corner kick settled by Jovan Kirovski. And after a slow start, Gregg Berhalter settled into an effective midfield role.
"This team closed down space more effectively than any team we faced in Copa America," said Brazil Coach Wanderley Luxemburgo. "They played very well."
Keller was only called upon five times in the match to save the ball, an indication of how well the U.S. back line played. He had no chance at the game-winner, but was perfect on every other occasion.
"I think saying that I saved five might be pushing it," Keller said. "I think I faced tougher shots against New Zealand. I can't tell you how proud I am of our team. This was definitely the best we've ever played against Brazil."
GERMANY 2, NEW ZEALAND 0: Michael Preetz and Lothar Matthaeus scored goals as Germany kept alive its hope of advancing to the Confederations Cup semifinals.
Germany's few bursts of offense were effective. Five minutes into the game, Mehmet Scholl punched a free kick off the right post, and Preetz knocked in the rebound. In the 32nd minute, Matthaeus easily dribbled around the goalkeeper and tapped in the ball.