Preamble: Greetings and welcome to another Confederations Cup matchup. Today, we've got Brazil and the United States going head-to-head at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.
Brazil is fresh from a thrilling 4-3 victory over Egypt, in which they only clinched victory after a red card led to a penalty kick in second half stoppage time.
The United States will be hoping to erase the memory of a loss to Italy, which featured a very controversial red card in a match that was definitely closer than the 3-1 scoreline would imply.
History is most definitely on the side of the Brazilians, who hold a 12-1 advantage in the series overall. The lone US win came in a 1-0 upset victory during the 1998 Gold Cup. More recently, the teams met in 2007 with the Brazilians winning 4-2 thanks to two set piece goals and a penalty kick.
For the US to shock the world and pull an upset here, they can't afford to take any foolish fouls close to their own goal. Brazil's side features some of the best players in the world when it comes to taking set pieces, and a goal against the run of play would surely demoralize Sam's Army.
While I'd absolutely love to see the US shock the world and pull off a huge upset, I just don't think it's on the cards. This will finish with a respectable 2-1 scoreline in favor of the Selecao.
- USA: Howard, Spector, DeMerit, Onyewu, Bornstein, Dempsey, Bradley, Kljestan, Beasley, Donovan, Altidore.
- Brazil: Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Miranda, Andrea Santeos, Ramires, Gilberto Silva, Kaka, Felipe Melo, Robinho, Luis Fabiano.
- Referee: Massimo Busacca, Switzerland. He officiated the 2009 Champions League final.
1 min: With the US in white, and Brazil in their traditional yellow kit, US takes the kick.
2 min: Bornstein is adjudged to have fouled Maicon, about 45 yards out. This is exactly what the US doesn't want to do. Onyewu cleans it up, though, and Brazil wins a corner. Donovan, one of the shortest players on the pitch, clears the corner.
5 min: The ESPN commentators just made reference to "Mauricio Edu". A quick check of Wikipedia reveals that they are, in fact, idiots. I can understand not knowing how to pronounce trickier foreign names, like Poland's Jacek Krzynowek. But American names should be easy!
7 min: GOOOOAAAAALLLLL! A blatant dive by Maicon leads to another set piece, and Felipe Melo heads home the cross. The US has every right to be upset with that goal, though, because replays show that Maicon wasn't fouled at all.
10 min: You've got to wonder if this goal will have the same sort of galvanizing effect that Clark's red card did in the last match.
11 min: There's another free kick for Brazil on another questionable call. This is getting ridiculous. The US clears the initial danger, but Brazil maintains possession thanks to a mistake by Beasley and nearly scores anyway—corner kick for Brazil.
14 min: The Yellow Submarines slash into the box courtesy of Kaka, who wins a corner. The US has barely been in Brazil's half of the pitch, but Brazil is taking set pieces seemingly every minute.
16 min: Beasley is brought down from behind, giving the US a chance to enjoy some possession. Speaking of Beasley, I'm not sure why he's in the lineup today. He hasn't been playing well at all lately, and Bradley has Torres and Adu at his disposal.
19 min: A US cross is deflected out for a corner. This could be very good, but they take it short and Beasley misses the pass, leading to a breakaway for Brazil. Surely they'll score here.
20 min: GOOOOAAALLLL!! Robinho capitalizes on a huge, huge mistake by DaMarcus Beasley as Brazil scores on a two-on-one breakaway. That was really all Beasley's fault, I can't make this clear enough. If he plays on Saturday, Bob Bradley should be fired.
23 min: And we've lost the video feed. That's awesome. Thank goodness for justin.tv. The stream is in Portuguese, and I can't see the clock, but it's something.
26 min: And we're back! Beasley is still on the pitch, which is infuriating because he's been terrible, just like he was against Costa Rica.
27 min: Robinho looked like he was 30 yards offsides there, but no whistle. Howard came out to clear. At the other end of the pitch, Dempsey passes to the advertising hoardings.
28 min: The commentators are discussing who was to blame for the second goal. Kljestan and Bradley are the two options they offer. What about Beasley?
30 min: After a half hour, it's pretty obvious that the US has taken a huge step back from the match against Italy. They were creating chances against the Italians and trying to push forward. Today, they're on their heels and giving up loads of early chances.
31 min: ESPN shows a graphic that says the US has conceded in the first seven minutes in three of their last four matches. When did Sven take over for Bradley?
32 min: The US wins another corner, and will presumably not go short to Beasley this time. They don't, and the ball bounds out to Kljestan.
34 min: Oguchi Onyewu is shown yellow for a challenge that was harder than Clark's on Gattuso. Am I bitter? Like a bottle of Red Hook ESB.
37 min: Brazil actually only has a very slight edge in possession. It seems like they've had the ball for 90 percent of the match, but apparently that's not the case. It's closer to 52 percent.
39 min: I'm really impressed with Jonathan Spector. He played well against the Italians, and hasn't backed down here. He just muscled Kaka off the ball and made a long overlapping run with Landon Donovan.
40 min: Beasley is admiring...something—I'm not sure. But he wasn't playing defense. It leads to a bunch of space for Maicon, who whips in a dangerous cross. It was almost 3-0 right there.
42 min: Robinho wins a free kick on a nothing foul from Onyewu. Replays show that Robinho was on his way down well before any contact was made.
45 min: Another borderline foul is called. For as much as I'm complaining about Busacca, it's still on the US to realize that he's calling it tight and make the necessary adjustments. There's one minute of stoppage time on the board.
This match is certainly over, barring a minor miracle. The first goal can be put on an official who was deceived by a pretty nice dive, but the US has absolutely no excuse for the second. A poorly executed corner kick was pounced on in an instant by Brazil and they got down the pitch to score in a flash.
Dunga doesn't need to make any adjustments here; his squad is making crisp passes and creating plenty of chances. Brazil doesn't look like they're exerting themselves while clearly dominating the match.
Bradley should seriously consider a Torres or Adu for Beasley switch, and maybe even a Danny Califf for Bornstein switch. The offense really needs a shot in the arm and those players are capable of providing a spark.
Bradley needs to show some balls and go for it. Even if it backfires, a 3-0 loss isn't going to hurt the US any more than a 2-0 loss, so go for broke. Take a chance, and if you're going to lose, go down with your guns blazing.
In other news, we've seen this commercial or an abbreviated version of it roughly 437 times during the Confederations Cup. Gotta love media saturation.
46 min: US Sub Conor Casey on, Beasley mercifully off. Casey gives the US some size up front, but that won't matter unless they can get some crosses in.
48 min: A decent free kick into the box for the US. Casey chests it down, but can't get a shot off. Altidore then has a nice give and go with Casey, and pulls the trigger but shoots high. That's encouraging, though. Against Italy, Altidore would have passed.
51 min: The US is actually getting some possession near the Brazilian goal. It leads to long shot from Michael Bradley that goes wide, but I'm just happy to see signs of life.
53 min: Robinho finds himself in acres of space about 15 yards from goal, but Tim Howard makes the save. It wasn't a great shot, if I'm being honest.
54 min: Bradley plays a nice ball over the top towards Altidore, but Jozy slips. If he'd kept his feet, that could have been 2-1.
55 min: Ramires is down after a tough challenge from Kljestan. It was a late challenge, but nothing malicious. Busacca played the advantage, and Kaka nearly scored on Howard, but Timmy made a great save to concede a throw.
57 min: And apparently Kljestan has been red carded. That did not merit a red card. It was his first challenge and the studs were down. Definitely a yellow, but I'm shocked to see a straight red there. There goes all hope of a comeback.
60 min: US Sub Feilhaber on, Altidore off. This is just so the US can maintain a four-man midfield and hopefully stave off another goal.
62 min: GOOOOOAAAAALLL! And Maicon makes it 3-0 after slicing through the US defense like an ax. That wasn't defended well at all.
64 min: Just so we're clear, I don't think that Busacca has determined the outcome of this one. The US was never going to beat Brazil. But he's done a very poor job today.
68 min: Free kick to the US from 30 yards out on the wing. We've got some subs first.
69 min: Brazil subs Kaka off, Julio Baptista on. Luis Fabiano off, Nilmar on. Good, I'm excited to see what Nilmar can do.
70 min: It's a decent ball to the far post, but nobody can get a head to it. Goal kick, and a sub for Brazil. Lucio off, Luisao on.
72 min: Conor Casey appears to be out for a Sunday stroll. Should somebody let him know that there's a football match going on? Nah, he looks happy. Let's not bother him.
74 min: Bob Bradley looks like a man who knows his days are numbered. If the US doesn't win the Gold Cup, he might be shown the door.
79 min: There's nothing much to report. Dunga has called off the cavalry and the Brazilians aren't pressuring the US defense like they were earlier. The US still can't find a way through the midfield
81 min: Unlike the Italy match, there are no positives to be taken from this one. It's not even funny how much the US misses Maurice Edu and Carlos Bocanegra.
83 min: And the US hits the crossbar! A beautiful nutmeg leads to a give and go with Donovan. Spector lays it back to Feilhaber, who smashes his shot off the bottom of the crossbar. That one was inches away, and the US almost returned a small measure of respectability to their performance.
86 min: Clint Dempsey foolishly attempts a rabona when he had Michael Bradley wide open next to him. Naturally, Demsey's move results in a turnover rather than an opportunity.
88 min: Dempsey shows some flashy moves by nutmegging Luisao. He draws a call for obstruction, and Donovan steps up to take this one. I count five white shirts in the box, and eight yellow ones.
89 min: Crossbar again! This time, Conor Casey puts a header into the woodwork. That's what his size offers, at least until Brian Ching gets healthy again.
90+1 min: Three minutes of stoppage time to be added. Nilmar is fouled about 25 yards out on a late challenge by Feilhaber. What, no red card?
90+2 min: After some animated gesturing by Julio Baptista, the Beast puts his shot 15 feet over the goal. Free kick to the US at the other end, and Dempsey wants it.
Full time: Dempsey of course misses the net, and Busacca blows his whistle to signal the end of the match. Brazil will advance to the semifinals, and the US are almost certainly eliminated from the competition.
The US gets one more chance to salvage a positive result, with a match against Egypt looming on Saturday. I would strongly recommend that the Americans refrain from any late challenges, because it's clear that those will be rewarded with red cards.
Brazil looks like they'll be meeting Spain in the finals of this competition, and what a match that could be. Both teams are playing very well at the moment, and that's a dream matchup.