The United States men's national team needed to put forth a confidence-building effort Tuesday in advance of next month's meeting with Mexico, but those plans were spoiled by Brazil in a 4-1 rout at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Brazil carried a 1-0 lead into halftime of the friendly, and some second-stanza substitutions paved the way for a decisive result.
While Neymar didn't receive a starting nod for Brazil, he came off the bench to net a brace for the 2014 World Cup semifinalists. Danny Williams' long-range blast in the 91st minute was the United States' lone silver lining in the loss.
Brazil is now 17-1 all-time against the U.S., according to ESPN Stats & Info, outscoring the Americans 39-12 in that span. During Jurgen Klinsmann's tenure as head coach of the USMNT, Brazil has outscored the Red, White and Blue 8-2 following an identical 4-1 win in 2012.
As ESPN Stats & Info explained, Brazil has imposed its will on the U.S. in recent years:
"We all have respect for them, but if you have too much respect for them, then you can really get crushed," Klinsmann said prior to the match, according to ESPN FC's Doug McIntyre. "We don't want it to end up in a lesson in terms of result. We want to give them a game."
Brazil's forwards and midfielders provided ample pressure on the United States back line throughout the evening, and early pressure produced the opening goal in the ninth minute.
After Willian made great strides up the right wing, he fired a cross that hit the woodwork and fell directly to Hulk, who calmly slotted the ball past goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
McIntyre offered a thought on the defensive breakdowns that led to the early deficit:
Alejandro Bedoya didn't last long after that lapse in an unfamiliar defensive midfield position, as Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl noted:
Jeff Carlisle of ESPN provided a strong take on Klinsmann's failed experiment:
That blunder set the tone as the United States back four repeatedly appeared in disarray while dealing with a talented and disciplined collection of forwards.
Since the U.S. invested so much time chasing Brazilian attackers throughout the first half, it was incapable of creating solid scoring chances on the counterattack. Over the first 45 minutes, Brazil outshot the Stars and Stripes 6-2.
And that was just the start.
By game's end, Brazil owned a 14-6 edge in the shot department while boasting eight more crosses.
Now with a massive showdown against Mexico looming, the United States has several issues it needs to sort out—and fast. Dating back to a July 22 Gold Cup loss to Jamaica, Klinsmann's side has lost three of its last four games while getting outscored 8-5 in that span.
The next time the U.S. takes the pitch, it will square off against Mexico at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 10 for the right to represent CONCACAF in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.
After Mexico defeated Jamaica in the 2015 Gold Cup final, it earned the right to clash with the United States, which captured the 2013 Gold Cup. Had the Americans defended their title, October's playoff would not have been necessary.
"From a CONCACAF standpoint, this is probably the biggest game we've ever put on," CONCACAF acting general secretary Ted Howard said, according to Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl.
The Confederations Cup—comprised of six FIFA confederation titleholders, the reigning World Cup champion and the host nation—will provide a glimpse at some of the globe's top contenders a year before the 2018 festivities get underway in Russia.
With uninspiring results offering little in the way of optimism for the U.S. these days, Mexico is primed to enter next month's clash as the favorite.