Brazil makes itself at home
Record crowd sees win over Mexico
FOXBOROUGH - Gillette Stadium last night was transformed into a mini-Maracana, the Rio de Janeiro venue built for the 1950 World Cup, as a mostly canary-yellow-clad crowd set an area record for attendance for a soccer game.
Brazil took a 3-1 victory over Mexico before 67,584 spectators in its final preparation match before World Cup qualifying begins next month.
It was Brazil's first appearance in the Boston area, a stronghold for Brazilian immigrants - and it will not likely be the last.
"There is a strong chance Brazil will come back," said Revolution general manager Craig Tornberg. "We had a minidialogue with promoters after the game and they have seen that this region will come out and support Brazil and how we put on a game. If anybody doesn't think this is a great market for Brazil, they didn't come to the match."
The Brazilians approached this match seriously, partly motivated by the overwhelming support, partly by a desire to make up for a 2-0 loss to the Mexicans in Copa America, and partly to prepare for qualifying. Brazil tackled hard, even the normally offensive-minded Kaka and Ronaldinho earning cautions, finishing the game a player short after Elano was red-carded. Dunga, Brazil's coach, was ejected in the first minute of added time.
"It was really great; seeing the green and yellow colors in the stadium felt like we were in Brazil," said Kaka, who scored the tiebreaking goal in the 80th minute.
Mexico scored first, surprising the Brazilians with a lightning attack on the left side, which resulted in Juan Carlos Cacho scoring into an open net in the 43d minute. But Brazil tied the score as Kleber poked in a corner kick in the 45th minute, then took advantage of a rare error by defender Rafa Marquez for a 2-1 lead.
"This wasn't revenge, but I never liked to lose as a player," Dunga said. "When we lost in Copa America, it served to help us for this game, because we changed the way we played and our mentality."
Dunga also had a reinforced squad, since neither Kaka nor Ronaldinho played in the Copa America, yet the Brazilians won the tournament in Venezuela.
Brazil dominated possession in the first half, threatening with right wing runs by Daniel Alves, and runs through the middle by Kaka and Robinho, with Ronaldinho setting them up.
The Brazilians committed four fouls in the first three minutes, and though Mexico had little possession, it was subjected to a succession of fouls. Referee Baldomero Toledo finally issued a caution (14th minute) to Ronaldinho for a foul on Marquez, his Barcelona teammate.
Brazil's strategy appeared to be paying off as it continually threatened Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. Marquez headed away an Alves cross (sixth minute), and Kaka won a corner (eighth) off a counter. Ochoa saved a Vagner Love shot off a Robinho feed (10th), then stopped a Kaka shot (14th), Love's follow into an open net being cleared off the line by Jonny Magallon.
But Mexico absorbed the physicality and retaliated. Fernando Arce and Andres Guardado combined to slice through the Brazil midfield, Arce's shot saved (22d) by Julio Cesar. Brazil's attack stalled midway through the half, the only threats when Kaka one-timed shots high (24th) and wide (41st). Mexico broke through on the left as Nery Castillo found Guardado on the edge of the penalty area, Guardado centering for an unmarked Cacho to score from just outside the goal area. Brazil increased its sense of urgency and Kaka won a corner, Kleber jabbing in Ronaldinho's corner kick a minute before the end of the half.
Things became even rougher in the second half, and Toledo appeared to be struggling, especially when he failed to issue a caution to Mexico's Carlos Salcido, who jumped up to grab the ball with two hands in the 72d minute. At least this was Dunga's contention, and Toledo apparently warned Dunga about his protest, then ejected him after he complained later.
Ronaldinho started the sequence to set up Brazil's second goal, finding Maicon on the right wing, Marquez then mis-hitting Maicon's cross, the ball stopping in Kaka's path. Substitute striker Afonso added a goal off a long clearance in the 86th minute.
Mexico coach Hugo Sanchez blamed the grass field, which had been installed Monday over FieldTurf, for contributing to the go-ahead goal, leading to Marquez's misreading of the bounce.
"We are used to playing in stadiums completely full of Mexicans when we play in the US," Sanchez said. "But coming here on the bus, we felt like we were in Brazil.
"But the positive side is we are not satisfied with the result but with how we played. This was worth five games against other teams. The difference between this game and Copa America was that Brazil had Kaka and Ronaldinho and they were more effective."
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at email@example.com.