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Back to Brazil: Clash of Champions


Following the United States’ 2-1 victory against Mexico in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final, head coach Bob Bradley sent a different group of players to South America to participate in the Copa America, CONMEBOL’s regional championship. While the younger American squad went out in the first round, Brazil waltzed through to the championship—disposing of Argentina with a convincing 3-0 win in the final.

With new trophies in both countries’ cases, the matchup scheduled a few months later was set up to renew an exciting series that had seen the last eight games between the two decided by one goal. Played at Soldier Field in Chicago, the back and forth affair turned out to be an offensive spectacle for fans on both continents as six goals were scored.

The U.S. brought many members of the championship Gold Cup squad, while Brazil also brought a full complement including two-time FIFA World Player of the Year Ronaldinho. The perfect weather meant a wide-open, attacking game and it didn’t take long for the first chances to be taken.

The action went back and forth early with Brazil’s Afonso Alves hitting the post in the 10th minute, but it was the U.S. that took the early lead.

A U.S. corner taken in the 21st minute by Landon Donovan from the left side curled perfectly into the center of the six yard box, where U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra simply redirected the ball with his chest into the right side netting. The assist was Donovan’s 22nd point of 2007, breaking Cobi Jones’ record for most points in a year. For Bocanegra, the goal was his seventh international tally as well as his second against Brazil, displaying his ability to come through against the world’s best.

In the 33rd minute, a meticulous six-pass sequence by Brazil up the field from their own box displayed their passing ability and resulted in the tying goal. Kaka was the last to touch the ball, running onto a pass inside the U.S. box and behind the defense. He tried to beat Tim Howard to the right post, but the quick-reacting goalkeeper managed to stop the shot into the path of Oguchi Onyewu, who was running back towards goal. Before he could react, the ball was off his chest and in the goal.

Halftime brought a tie game, but Brazil came out attacking in the second half and took the lead shortly after the restart. A corner kick taken by Ronaldinho from the left side found Lucio rising above his marker on the back post, and Brazil’s captain gave his team the lead with a powerful header just under the crossbar. Howard dislocated his finger on the play, jamming it against the bar during his reaction, but stayed in the game.

The U.S. kept their foot on the gas, getting several chances on goal. Heath Pierce fired a rocket from 25 yards that Brazilian goalkeeper Doni had to dive and block with his fists, leaving the rebound sitting in front of an open goal. Josh Wolff pounced, but got knocked down from behind in a suspect no-call to leave the score 2-1 to Brazil.

Clint Dempsey finished an excellent attacking sequence for the U.S. to tie the game in the 73rd minute. A build up along the right side was pushed forward with a pass from Donovan into the right side of the box, where Steve Cherundolo ran onto the ball. Dempsey halted his run towards goal, pausing near the penalty spot to lose his marker. Cherundolo dropped the ball back and Dempsey ripped a textbook one-time shot with his right foot into the left side netting.

The euphoria left just as quickly as it had arrived however, as Brazil again took the lead two minutes later. A foul by Bocanegra just outside the box left a dangerous free kick for Brazil, and Ronaldinho curled it through a gap in the wall and into the left side of the goal.

Continuing to attack, the U.S. again pressed for the final 15 minutes but was unable to unlock the Brazilian back line. A late penalty called on the U.S. finished off the game when Elano converted the spot kick.

“We were pleased with our performance but not satisfied with the result,” said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley. “We are continuing to make progress as a team, and I felt like over 90 minutes we did a much more solid job tonight. When you play against the best teams and the best players, the ability to keep raising your level to make all the plays is what makes the difference. The package is good, but it has to keep getting better.”

The high-scoring affair was only the second time both teams combined to score more than three goals in 13 matches, with the last time being their first game in 1930 that ended 4-3. But like their overtime match in 2003, the game proved that the U.S. is not afraid of attacking the world’s No. 1 ranked team—an attitude that would be on display almost two years later in the United States’ biggest match against Brazil ever.

Match-up: USA vs. Brazil
Date: September 9, 2007
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Soldier Field – Chicago, Illinois
Kickoff: 3 p.m. CT
Attendance: 43,543
Weather: Clear, 76 degrees

Scoring Summary:      1     2     F
USA                             1     1     2
BRA                             1     3     4

USA – Carlos Bocanegra (Landon Donovan)     21st minute.
BRA – Oguchi Onyewu (own goal)                  33
BRA – Lucio (Ronaldinho)                              53
USA – Clint Dempsey (Steve Cherundolo)        73
BRA – Ronaldinho (unassisted)                       75
BRA – Elano (penalty)                                    90+2

Lineups:
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 22-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 2-Heath Pearce (21-Davy Arnaud, 86); 4-Michael Bradley, 5-Benny Feilhaber (15-Bobby Convey, 70), 10-Landon Donovan, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 16-Josh Wolff (9-Eddie Johnson, 70), 8-Clint Dempsey
Subs not used: 24-Chris Seitz; 17-Jonathan Spector, 19-Kerry Zavagnin, 23-Jay Demerit
Head Coach: Bob Bradley


BRA: 1-Doni; 2-Maicon (13-Daniel Alves, 64), 3-Lucio (capt.), 4-Juan (14-Edu Dracena, 46), 6-Gilberto; 5-Mineiro, 8-Gilberto Silva; 7-Kaká (20-Julio Baptista, 70), 11-Robinho (19-Elano, 78), 10-Ronaldinho (21-Diego, 85); 9-Afonso Alves (22-Vagner Love, 64)
Subs not used: 12-Julio Cesar, 15-Gladstone, 16-Kleber, 17-Fernando, 18-Josue,
Head Coach: Dunga

Stats Summary: USA / BRA
Shots: 11 / 9
Saves: 3 / 2
Corner Kicks: 5 / 3
Fouls: 19 / 13
Offside: 1 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
BRA – Robinho                 (caution)     45+1 minute
USA – Carlos Bocanegra    (caution)     75
BRA – Gilberto                  (caution)     85

Officials:
Referee: Armando Archundia (MEX)
First Assistant Referee: Hector Delgadillo (MEX)
Second Assistant Referee: Marvin Torrentera (MEX)
Fourth Official: Baldomero Toledo (USA)

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