Confederations Cup

US squad kicked to curb

Mighty Brazil wins in a breeze

US goalkeeper Tim Howard was under siege all game by the potent Brazilian attack. US goalkeeper Tim Howard was under siege all game by the potent Brazilian attack. (Associated Press)
Associated Press / June 19, 2009
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If this was a dress rehearsal for next year’s World Cup, the United States is far from ready.

The US was hammered for the second time in a four-day span at the Confederations Cup, with Brazil outplaying the Americans, 3-0, yesterday in Pretoria.

Felipe Melo scored off Maicon’s free kick in the seventh minute and Robinho made it 2-0 in the 20th, completing a counterattack that began when DaMarcus Beasley and Landon Donovan failed to combine on a short corner kick. Maicon added the third goal in the 62d.

“They’re always going to be the better team, right?’’ US goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “It’s just for us about going out and trying to give a good showing of ourselves because the best team doesn’t always win. Today it did. We were overpowered, and sometimes you just come up against Goliath and David doesn’t win.’’

Brazil outshot the Americans, 23-9, including 11-2 on shots on goal.

And the United States (0-2) finished a man short for the second straight game. Sacha Kljestan was ejected by Swiss referee Massimo Busacca in the 57th minute for a rough foul on Ramires.

“He played the ball off before I got there and I got him in the foot,’’ Kljestan said. “I don’t know if it was a red [card] or not, but the end state is that I let my team down today.’’

Combined with an opening 3-1 loss to Italy on Monday, the defeat put the United States on the verge of first-round elimination. The US has an outside chance, at best, to reach the semifinals. The Americans could advance by beating Egypt by at least three goals, and either Italy scoring three fewer goals than the US in a loss to Brazil or the victory margins of the US and Brazil totaling seven or more.

Missing injured defenders Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, and Frankie Hejduk, the US has been shaky in the back. Melo’s goal marked the third time in four matches the United States fell behind within the first seven minutes.

“It was a very nervous, tentative start to the game,’’ US coach Bob Bradley said. “The early goal in a set piece put us in a difficult situation right from the start.’’

The US has never overcome a deficit against Brazil, which improved to 13-1 in head-to-head meetings and has outscored the United States, 26-8.

Melo beat defender Jonathan Spector for the first goal, taking Maicon’s 25-yard free kick following a foul by Michael Bradley and heading it past Howard from about 5 yards.

The second goal came on an end-to-end effort after Beasley fumbled Donovan’s short corner kick. With Beasley slapping the ground in frustration, Andres Santos cleared to Kaka, who touched the ball to Ramires. He dribbled 50 yards upfield before dishing off to Robinho.

Maicon got the third goal off passes from Kaka and Ramires, with the last pass bouncing off defender Jonathan Bornstein right by the goal.

Egypt 1, Italy 0 - Egypt stunned Italy on a 40th-minute goal by Mohamed Homos in Johannesburg, leaving the World Cup champions with an uphill battle to reach the semifinals.

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