After the 3-0 loss to Brazil, the U.S. has been virtually eliminated from the Confederations Cup. The U.S. got out-classed and out-coached in their first game against Italy. However, in that loss the U.S. showed plenty of positives and experienced a few tough breaks and a few bad decisions that changed the game.
In the Brazil match, the U.S. showed no positive signs, and continued to raise questions about their ability to play in big games, their ability to score goals (set plays or in the run of play), as well as questions about their discipline.
Before kick off, Coach Bob Bradley already raised some eyebrows with his choices for the starting line up, most notably, DaMarcus Beasley. It’s no surprise to any fan who has been following the U.S. National Team that Beasley’s form has been off and declining for over a year. He has lost speed, vision, touch, and confidence and until all of those return Beasley should not be a part of the national team.
The game started off as expected with Brazil controlling possessions and keeping the ball in the U.S. half. The Americans had a tough time putting passes together and getting any kind of control. This dominance led to a quick goal from Brazil off a free kick.
On replay, it appeared as though there was no foul, but you have to deal with the calls you get and the U.S. didn’t deal well with this one. A beautiful, pin point cross from Maicon found Felipe Melo who headed the ball past Tim Howard.
Jonathan Spector got beat by a step or two from Melo and Howard looked as though he was already a step inside the goal by the time the ball from Maicon found its target. I won’t fault either Spector or Howard too much, because the service from Maicon was absolutely brilliant, and it’s very hard to defend such quality.
Ten minutes after Brazil’s first strike the U.S. finally found a bit of game, only to be betrayed by the plague that is DaMarcus Beasley. A short pass to Beasley off a U.S. corner kick was lost as he let the ball roll under his foot.
The ensuing six seconds went by in a flash with quick touches from Brazil until Kaka released Ramires and he was off on a breakaway on goal. Spector did all he could to defend a two on one situation, but was helpless as Ramires squared the ball to Robinho who slotted the ball into the back of the net.
I was already fuming about the choice of Beasley as a starter, but at this point, I was screaming at my TV for him to get off the field, but it was not to be. A gritty effort kept the Brazilians from scoring again before half.
I got a call from a family member wanting to discuss the first half and I said then that Beasley and Kljestan needed to get taken off. No one U.S. player was particularly good in the first half, but these two were so abysmal I couldn’t see how they could possibly stay out on the field.
Upon the start of the second half, Conor Casey came in for Beasley, but Kljestan remained on the field. It seemed as if Kljestan knew he shouldn’t be out there and promptly committed a hard, late foul and got himself taken off the field with a red card.
I have absolutely no idea how Kljestan didn’t learn anything from watching what happened to Ricardo Clark in the game against Italy. It is obvious, in every, single international match, that referees are quick with cards, there are certain types of fouls that will not be tolerated, and those that come seconds too late are almost always a red.
The sad part about this whole event is that the U.S. had started to string some passes together. Granted, Brazil was allowing the U.S. to have more space to make decisions and passes, but still they were putting together something that resembled professional level soccer.
Bradley decided to bring on Benny Feilhaber, a central midfield player, for Jozy Altidore, the most promising striker. This really felt like a “stop-the-bleeding” sub. Eerily reminicsent of the Bruce Arena era leading up to World Cup 2006. The mentality being that it’s ok to lose to Brazil, it’s not ok to get blown out. A straight PR move to save face, which is not what the U.S. needs right now, they need a wake-up a call, they need to be shaken, they need something.
Shortly after the red card, Brazil scored it’s third goal and significantly backed off. This gave a glimmer of hope for the U.S. as they started to control some possession in Brazil’s half. This led to two chances on goal that both hit the crossbar.
The first came from some incredible link up play between Landon Donovan and Spector on the right side, leading to a pass to an on running Feilhaber who struck it well, but came up unlucky as the ball slammed off the underside of the crossbar. Minutes later Casey had an chance off a header from a cross that also hit the crossbar. It would be the last time the U.S. would threaten the Brazilian goal.
The game ended dismally. There were some moments of quality, but overall, left everyone disappointed. It comes down to the fact that the U.S. is not ready or able to compete with the best teams in the world, something that can not be fixed easily.