Neymar, Brazil Beat USA Men's Soccer Team 2-0 in Friendly Action

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 8, 2018

Brazil forward Roberto Firmino, center, is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal against the United States during the first half of an international soccer friendly match, Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

The United States men's national team suffered a 2-0 loss to Brazil on Friday night at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Roberto Firmino and Neymar scored the goals.

The defeat marked the first of six Kickoff Series friendlies for the U.S. before the end of 2018 against a group of high-profile opponents, including Mexico, Colombia, Peru, England and Italy. Interim manager Dave Sarachan called up a young roster for the fixtures with Brazil and Mexico.

While the inexperienced Americans put together a gamely performance against the star-studded Selecao, who featured Neymar, Douglas Costa, Philippe Coutinho and Thiago Silva in their starting XI, it wasn't enough to earn a result against the 2018 FIFA World Cup quarterfinalists.

                       

Youthful U.S. Back Line Must Learn from Mistakes vs. Brazil

Firmino opened the scoring for Brazil in the 11th minute, but Douglas Costa did most of the work by taking advantage of a mistake by U.S. left back Antonee Robinson.

The Juventus winger accepted a pass along the sideline and used his blistering pace to ease past the 21-year-old Robinson, who overcommitted on his effort to close down the space. Costa then whipped a perfect cross into the running lane of the Liverpool forward for the simple finish.

Neymar increased the lead just moments before halftime after a controversial foul call on American midfielder Wil Trapp inside the box.

The Selecao captain made no mistake with the ensuing penalty, as he did his trademark slow jog to force USMNT goalkeeper Zack Steffen to make the first move before calmly slotting the shot into the open half of the net.

All told, facing a foe with as much firepower up front as Brazil was an immense challenge for the American defenders. The USMNT will need to work on cleaning up their errors over the next couple months of friendlies.

             

Lack of Attacking Chances A Concern for New-Look USMNT

After missing out on the 2018 World Cup, the next couple of years are about growth and development for the American squad. Although every match must be viewed through that lens, the inability to create any consistent offensive pressure remains a concern.

The U.S. has long relied on a grind-it-out mentality against top-flight opponents. That eventually must change in order to compete at the highest levels.

Alas, it was more of the same Friday night as an attacking group led by Bobby Wood, Julian Green and Paul Arriola struggled to make inroads against a stout Brazil back line.

The United States finished the match with just two shots on target.

When the Kickoff Series ends in late November, it will be intriguing to see whether the squad has made any progress in creating more chances in the attacking third. It's not the only key to long-term success, but it's likely the biggest one.

             

What's Next?

The United States returns to action Tuesday night at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, for what will likely be another heated matchup with Mexico.

Brazil is also back on the pitch Tuesday, when it takes on El Salvador at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.

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