A bonis ad meliora should be the motto each and every friendly this fall for the US. “From good to better” aptly describes the US’s transition from an okay first half where Brazil scored both their goals to a second half where the US was able to manage a 0-0 draw and show signs of life offensively.
Heading into each game my heart hopes for a US win, but my head is a little more logical and I expected us to lose to the tune of 3-1. What was more important to me than the result was the continued growth of our center back pairing. That, and for young players to develop a confidence that only comes from playing elite players and realizing that you can hang with them. I think we accomplished both. Matt Miazga for me was the player of the game. Between he and John Brooks they stood toe to toe with superstars like Coutinho, Neymar, and Roberto Firmino. Sure, we gave up two goals but neither goal was the direct result of a mistake by either of the center backs. Let’s break down the two halves.
Brazil’s quality was immediately evident from the opening whistle as they controlled the majority of possession and spent a lot of time on the attack. The US looked a little starstruck and you could see the hesitancy in their decision making and passes. Brazil wasted no time getting on the scoresheet when in the 11th minute Antonee Robinson misjudged the pace and touch of Juventus star Douglas Costa. Costa flew by Robinson, who had a rough night marking the speedy winger, and served up a picture perfect cross to Roberto Firmino who had little to do other than put his foot on it.
That exact #Brazil goal was coming from the opening minutes. Antonee Robinson has no idea how to defend against Douglas Costa; whose explosive first step, pace, and cross for Firmino were all world-class.#USMNT #USAvBRA #USABRA #Selecao ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/v75DXTRdPM— #ThankYouDeuce (@JogaBonito_USA) September 8, 2018
Despite the early goal the US response was very positive. There was a five minute stretch from the 30th minute to the 35th where the US had Brazil on their heels and it appeared that a goal was evident. However, the Brazilian defense repelled wave after wave and ultimately frustrated the US’s chances of scoring. Weston McKinnie had the best opportunity during the onslaught when a Will Trapp cross was headed on to him near the back post by John Brooks. He collected it, took a touch and shot the ball into Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker who did just enough to parry it away.
Despite the positive response from the US, Brazil was able to bait Mexican referee Fernando Guerrero Ramirez on a clear dive by Fabinho. Will Trapp was unfortunate to have the call go against him when extremely minimal contact sent Fabinho to the ground with a look of disbelief. It was enough theatrics to get Guerrero to point to the spot and Neymar calmly slotted it low and to the right of Zack Steffen’s goal in the 43rd minute. Unfortunate for the US heading into the half, and really this game should have ended 1-0.
Coming out of the break down 2-0 I was concerned that this game could spiral out of control for the US. But despite the disappointment of being down 2-0 on a small mistake by Robinson and big mistake by referee Guerrero, the US stayed focus and was able to keep Brazil scoreless in the second half. No small task given Brazil’s offensive talent.
Possession was hard to come by as the US was out-possessed 65% to 35% but despite that the US was still able to generate 11 shots with 2 of those on goal. The best chance of the second half came from Douglas Costa once again besting Antonee Robinson down the right flank and playing a picture perfect through-ball to a rushing Neymar. Zack Steffen was able to get just enough on it to slow its progress down and a quick thinking Matt Miazga was able to clear it off the goal line.
Very close to a 3rd goal for #Brazil. Douglas Costa beat Robinson yet again and played in Neymar for the shot, Steffen got a hand on it, and Miazga cleared it off the line.#USMNT #USAvBRA #USABRA pic.twitter.com/TfB8NHDZPP— #ThankYouDeuce (@JogaBonito_USA) September 8, 2018
Will Trapp had the best opportunity for the US in the second period when Tim Weah laid a pass off to Trapp outside the box and he let fly a low hard shot. Alisson had to react quickly as it had eyes for the bottom left corner of the goal. Trapp has now appeared in 7 US matches, captaining 5 of those and other than the erroneous penalty call against him he had a solid night.
The loss leaves the US with a miserable 1-18-0 record against Brazil, with our only win coming in the 1998 version of the CONCACAF Gold Cup of which Brazil was an invited guest.
Man of the match
Neymar was inventive with his possession and passing all night and you could make an easy case that he is player of the game. However, Douglas Costa assisted on the game winner and continually pulled the US defense apart with his speed and physicality on the wings. He was a nightmare that Antonee Robinson hopes to soon forget and because of his play John Brooks and Matt Miazga were forced into emergency defending too often. Because of that, Douglas Costa is our man of the match.
The US continues an exciting fall lineup of friendlies when they take on Mexico at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee on Tuesday, September 11th (never forget). Stay tuned for our pregame preview coming at you on Monday the 10th!