BRENT LATHAM - Thursday, June 18, 2009
United States vs Brazil
Conferations Cup - Thursday June 18, 2009
The United States found little besides frustration in its second game of the Confederations Cup, as Brazil left the Americans all-but eliminated with a comprehensive victory at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.
The Americans were scrambling from the opening whistle against the highly skilled Selecao, and they found themselves digging the ball out of the net after only seven minutes, when Felipe Melo appeared in the box and bowled past Jonathan Spector to power home an inch-perfect set piece delivery from Maicon.
The Brazilians continued to have virtually free reign, until the Americans finally won a corner kick in the 20th minute.
But that small victory soon turned against the US, as DaMarcus Beasley, starting on the left of midfield, missed a trap on a short corner, sending the South Americans off on a downfield gallop that ended with Robinho slamming home from the penalty spot to put the five-time world champs up by two.
Brazil continued to attack down the left wing, and ended up with a series of set pieces, one of which could have been finished by either Gilberto Silva or Felipe Melo, but the half ended 2-0.
At the half, Coach Bob Bradley moved his bench, bringing on Conor Casey for the ineffective Beasley and the move nearly paid dividends immediately, as Casey fed Josmer Altidore, but the striker fired over from close range.
Two minutes later Michael Bradley flashed a shot across the Brazilian goal, and the Americans looked interested in the match for the first time.
But all that ended in the 57th minute, when Sacha Kljestan was sent off for a rough tackle on Ramires after the CD Chivas man had given the ball away near the US box leaving the US to play the final 33 minutes with just ten men.
Only five minutes later, Brazil ratified its advantage through man of the match Maicon, who played a nice combination with Ramires and Kaka which left him with the ball inside the six yard box. Maicon then chipped a shot that appeared to deflect off Jonathan Bornstein and found its way into Tim Howard's net.
In the 70th minute Dunga made three changes, taking off the tired Kaka and Luis Fabiano, as well as captain Lucio.
The short handed Americans found a bit of life and nearly had one back in the 82nd minute, when Spector nutmegged a Brazilian defender and played a combination with Landon Donovan, which ended with Spector feeding substitute Benny Feilhaber at the top of the box, but the Aarhus midfielder's shot rang off the bottom of the crossbar and bounced away.
The Yanks had one more shot to cut into the lead in the 88th minute, but Casey headed off the crossbar off a Donovan set piece.
After the match, Coach Bradley began the process of looking for the silver lining .
"The only small positive that I can think of so shortly after that match," said Bradley, "is that when you're down a man it takes extra work from everyone to keep yourselves in it, and I thought that part was good."
The coach said the slow start could be attributed to a number of factors.
"It can be tactical factors, how you decide to start the match, or just that one team starts with more energy," he said. "When you're punished right away during that period it only makes it a little bit worse.
Coach Bradley said it was a challenge to regroup after the loss to Italy and play Brazil on short rest, having played against Italy on Monday night.
"It's a short turnaround and there's always that challenge to be able to quickly regroup when you've lost the first game.
"We didn't exactly start off as well as we would have liked to today," Conor Casey deadpanned to YA after the game. "I think that as a group we just came out a little bit slow today."
"When you're running against this kind of competition you've got to be ready from the start. It's hard to play from behind against teams like Brazil and Italy."
The Americans will now take on Egypt in Rustenburg on Sunday in their Group B closer.