US can’t keep up with Brazil
It’s taken apart by a new squad
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The “meninos’’ are definitely all right.
Coach Mano Menezes’s Boys from Brazil have rejuvenated the national team’s prospects following a greatly disappointing World Cup performance. Menezes calls his players “youngsters,’’ and he went with a starting lineup averaging 23 years of age in a 2-0 victory over the US last night.
The youthful Brazilians — 27-year-old goalkeeper Victor was the oldest starter — were creative, composed, lively. Their one-touch passing took apart the US defense and delighted most of the near-capacity crowd of 77,223 at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
After the World Cup, Brazil opted for a facelift. Out went the coach, Dunga, and all but four players who went to South Africa. Menezes gave seven players their international debuts last night. One of them, 18-year-old Neymar, scored the first goal, in the 28th minute. Alexandre Pato, 20, got the second in first-half added time.
After that, the match turned into a stroll for the Brazilians. Though this group is young and hungry, it knows how to pace the game. Brazil was patient when the situation called for it and skillful enough to make the US do most of the work.
Brazil capitalized on the US inexperience and lack of speed on the right side of the defense in the first half. Right back Jonathan Spector, starting in place of Steve Cherundolo (held out of action for fitness reasons) was continually attacked by Neymar; and Alejandro Bedoya, making his first US start, was forced to track back. Things were not much better on the other side for the US, as Robinho and right back Daniel Alves raided the wing.
Soon after Robinho moved to the left wing, he released Andre Santos along the sideline, Santos’s cross headed in by Neymar for a 1-0 lead.
“Early in the game I thought we had done a good job with things,’’ US coach Bob Bradley said. “But [Neymar’s] ability to go at people and create on the dribble is something I think is special.’’
Late in the half, Bedoya and Benny Feilhaber switched sides, but the US became less threatening as the half continued. Brazil dominated possession, continually pressuring the US defense. Eventually, the US defense was caught flat-footed. Paulo Henrique Ganso froze the defense, then touched on to Ramires, who sent a through ball to Pato. US goalkeeper Tim Howard advanced on Pato, who went around him and sent the shot into an empty net.
Sacha Kljestan replaced Feilhaber after halftime, Bedoya returning to the right wing in an attempt to improve the US athleticism. But Brazil was coasting by then.
Landon Donovan kept the US alive in the opening half. But the team’s lack of possession negated any chance for the US to consistently threaten. Michael Bradley was whistled for offside after finishing off a corner, and substitute Herculez Gomez’s header was saved by Victor in the second half. Bedoya, who went from Boston College to a professional career with Orebro in Sweden, departed in the second half with a minor heel injury.
“I thought we had a good first 20 or 25 minutes,’’ Bradley said. “Early on, the ball was moving quickly, good energy. The fact we weren’t able to sustain, certainly that is more an indication of where some of the players are at this point in the year.
“The things we need to work on are always the same. When you play at a high level, the ability with the ball, to see things faster, move it quickly, create advantages, take advantage of situations. The window is smaller, it closes faster.’’
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at email@example.com.