There it was, on the left of the screen, in SportsCenter’s upcoming-stories list this morning: “Brazilian Blowout.”
Yes, Brazil topped the United States 4-1 in Landover, Md., last night, and yes, that scoreline, beamed out to the world over the AP and Reuters, looks very much like a blowout.
But the scoreline does the U.S. a bit of a disservice. They were in this game for long stretches and they created a good number of chances against the mighty Brazilians. Oguchi Onyewu hit the crossbar. Herculez Gomez and Terrence Boyd were denied, in quick succession, by great saves from Brazilian keeper Rafael. Gomez bounced a header toward the gaping Brazilian net that Clint Dempsey nearly bundled in—only to see his attempt cleared off the line.
Then there was Brazil’s first goal, on a dubious penalty, that put the U.S. in a hole just 12 minutes in. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann also disputed the fourth strike, saying Alexandre Pato was offside (in real time he looked off; on replay, it looked like Onyewu kept him on), and argued that Gomez should have been awarded a penalty when he was taken down in the box in the second half.
To those grumblings we would add that Neymar was offside on his overlapping run that led to Goal No. 3.
Yet we also have to add that Michael Bradley neglected to mark Marcelo on that play, that Brazil generally made that game extremely difficult for the Americans with their unrelenting pressure on the ball and their speed and possession. (In closeup shots of U.S. midfielders Jermaine Jones, Maurice Edu, and Bradley, you could see how much chasing they were doing by the fatigued looks on their faces.)
Brazil deserved to win and were the better team on the night, but that 4-1 … well, 3-2 or 3-1 would’ve told the story more accurately for those who didn’t watch.
In any case, on to the highlights:
Some more takeaways for the U.S. side:
• Gomez had an excellent game, and should certainly be part of Klinsmann’s mix going forward. He scored (reacting very well to a deflected cross in front of goal), put pressure on Brazil’s backline, and created opportunities for others.
• Michael Bradley may be the best U.S. player right now. He’s so poised on the ball, rarely gives it away, and is showing new flashes of skill.
• Fabian Johnson has won the left back job. Is there any doubt now? He’s athletic, skilled, dangerous going forward and solid defensively. He also faked out the entire stadium with a move on the left in the second half, before sending in a dangerous cross.
• Canada better be ready Sunday. After competing hard against one of the best teams in the world—and being visibly ticked off about falling short—the Americans should be primed to take out their frustrations on the Canucks at Toronto’s BMO Field (NBCSN, 7:00 pm).