TSHAWNE/PRETORIA, South Africa (June 18, 2009) — For the second straight game at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, the U.S. Men’s National Team was forced to play a man down for a significant amount of time due to a straight red card, eventually falling to fifth-ranked Brazil 3-0 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Tshwane/Pretoria, South Africa.
To have a chance to advance, the U.S. must defeat Egypt by at least three goals and get help from Brazil in their match against Italy. The U.S. either needs Italy to score three fewer goals than the U.S. in a loss to Brazil, or for the sum of the U.S. and Brazil's margin of victory to be seven goals or greater. Brazil and Italy will be shown live on ESPN and Univision, and the U.S. plays Egypt live on ESPN2, Telefutura and ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, with both games kicking off at 2:30 p.m. ET.
After allowing two goals in the first half, the U.S. appeared to find some rhythm and confidence to start the second half, but in the 57th minute, midfielder Sacha Kljestan was sent off for a late tackle that forced the U.S. to play the final 30 minutes with 10 men. With the man advantage, Brazil tacked on its third and final goal five minutes later. The U.S. once again showed its tenacity and resolve, continuing to try to get on the board and were unlucky not to pull one back against the five-time FIFA World Cup champions after hitting the crossbar twice in the final five minutes.
"We had a very nervous, tentative start to the game,” said U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley. “An early goal off a set piece really put us in a difficult situation right from the start. In that regard, Brazil is a difficult team to play against always. But when you go down a goal early, when in some ways you follow that up with a bad play on the corner and they put a counter together, you've really created as hard a situation as you can have. I certainly still felt that in the second half the chance was there. The start of the second half was better, more lively and more determined. Again, a red card in the second match in a row is very disappointing. At times players are trying to push harder, but in the end make a rash decision and it ends up hurting the team for the rest of the game."
While the U.S. backline stayed the same, Bradley made two changes to the starting lineup that played against Italy, inserting DaMarcus Beasley and Sacha Kljestan to replace the suspended Ricardo Clark, and Benny Feilhaber. The U.S. backline was also once again missing defender and team captain Carlos Bocanegra, who missed his second straight game with a hamstring injury. Bradley’s team started the game in a 4-5-1 formation, with Jozy Altidore playing as the lone striker.
The Brazilian offense was firing on all cylinders early in the game, pushing forward into the attack to earn numerous set plays, but it was a phantom foul in the seventh minute that eventually led to Brazil’s opening goal. Referee Massimo Busacca called a foul against Michael Bradley along the right flank, despite replays that showed the U.S. midfielder hadn’t made contact with Ramires, who tumbled to the ground. Maicon took the ensuing free kick and placed it perfectly to the back post onto the head of a streaking Melo, who redirected it with pace into the net and past a helpless Tim Howard. The goal was Brazil’s fourth of the tournament from a set piece after finishing three dead balls against Egypt in their opening game.
The U.S. began to create opportunities after going down a goal, and earned its first corner kick of the game in the 20th minute. Landon Donovan took the kick short for Beasley, but the ball skipped under his foot and the Brazilian counter attack moved the other way quickly. The ball was played ahead to Kaka and then to Ramires who started his run just inside his own defensive half. Ramires carried the ball with speed to the penalty area and slotted it through the legs of Spector, the lone U.S. defender who was able to get back, for Robinho. With no one between him and U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard, Robinho took a touch before firing the ball low and inside the near post to double Brazil’s lead. The entire play, from endline to endline, took Brazil just 14 seconds.
The U.S. then changed into a 4-4-2, with Clint Dempsey running up top alongside Altidore, in an effort to create more offensive opportunities. At halftime, Bob Bradley brought on a second forward in Conor Casey, while dropping Dempsey back into a midfield role, and the change nearly paid off in the 48th minute. After a Brazilian clearance went right to Jonathan Bornstein, he calmly touched it over to Oguchi Onyewu. Onyewu started the ball forward, finding Michael Bradley who played a penetrating ball to Altidore. The 19-year-old played a one-two with Casey, receiving the ball on a full sprint before taking a shot that is just high of the near corner.
For the next 10 minutes, the U.S. continued to breathe life into the attack, but similar to the match against Italy, the referee’s decision to show a straight red for a late tackle by Kjlestan on Ramires in the 57th minute forced the team to play with only 10 men. The U.S. has played 90 of a possible 180 minutes in the tournament with only 10 men.
Benny Feilhaber stepped into the midfield minutes later, but in the 60th minute, Brazil was able to put the game out of reach. Maicon started the ball out of the back and moved ahead with pace. He got to the edge of the box where he played it in for Ramires, who touched it ahead to Kaka and Kaka touched it back to Maicon, who had continued his run around Bornstein. From a difficult angle near the endline, Maicon took a shot that deflected slightly off the toe of a recovering Bornstein and sailed high inside the near post.
The South Americans continued to hold a majority of the possession against the U.S. with a man-advantage, but the U.S. was not without chances. In the 82nd minute, Spector made an overlapping run to receive the ball from Donovan and took the ball to the end line. He played the ball through his defender’s legs back to Donovan, who touched it back to Spector, who was now just inside the box. The West Ham defender looked up and spotted Feilhaber at the top of the box and slipped a pass to him. Feilhaber played a first-time shot from 15-yards out that beat Brazilian ‘keeper Julio Cesar but clanged hard off the bottom of the crossbar.
Six minutes later, Dempsey was fouled to set up a free kick near the left corner flag. Donovan, who wore the captains armband, drove the ensuing free kick to Casey’s head. Casey, who did well to beat his defender to the ball, redirected it on frame, but once again the ball smacked into the crossbar.
The U.S. was shut out for the first time in 16 matches, dating back to the epic 0-0 draw against Argentina on July 8, 2008. The Americans also dropped their all-time record against the Brazil to 1-13, with the lone win coming back in the 1998 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and 7-18-1 all time against teams ranked in the top five in the world.
-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report --
Match-up: USA vs. Brazil
Date: June 18, 2009
Competition: FIFA Confederations Cup
Venue: Loftus Versfeld Stadium – Tshwane/Pretoria, South Africa
Kickoff: 4 p.m. local time
Weather: Partly cloudy, 68 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
BRA 2 1 3
BRA – Felipe Melo (Maicon) 7th minute
BRA – Robinho (Ramires) 20
BRA – Maicon (Kaka) 62
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 21-Jonathan Spector, 15-Jay DeMerit, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 2-Jonathan Bornstein; 12-Michael Bradley, 16-Sacha Kljestan, 10-Landon Donovan, 8-Clint Dempsey, 7-DaMarcus Beasley (4-Conor Casey, 46); 17-Jozy Altidore (22-Benny Feilhaber, 60)
Subs not used:3-Carlos Bocanegra, 6-Heath Pearce, 9-Charlie Davies, 11-Marvell Wynne, 14-Danny Califf, 18-Brad Guzan, 19-Freddy Adu, 20-Jose Francisco Torres, 23-Luis Robles
Not eligible: 13-Ricardo Clark (suspension)
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
BRA: 1-Julio Cesar; 2-Maicon, 3-Lucio (14-Luisao, 70), 15-Miranda, 16-Andre Santos; 18-Ramires, 8-Gilberto Silva, 10-Kaka (19-Julio Baptista, 69), 5-Felipe Melo; 11-Robinho, 9-Luis Fabiano (22-Nilmar, 69)
Subs not used: 12-Victor, 23-Gomes, 6-Kleber, 7-Elano, 13-Daniel Alves, 17-Josue, 20-Kleberson, 21-Alexandre Pato
Not eligible: 4-Juan (injury)
Head Coach: Dunga
Stats Summary: USA / BRA
Shots: 8 / 16
Shots on Goal: 2 / 8
Saves: 5 / 0
Corner Kicks: 3 / 6
Fouls: 12 / 12
Offside: 1 / 1
USA – Oguchi Onyewu (caution) 33rd minute
USA – Sacha Kljestan (sent off) 57
Referee: Massimo Busacca (SUI)
Assistant Referee 1: Matthias Arnet (SUI)
Assistant Referee 2: Francesco Buragina (SUI)
Fourth Official: Coffi Codjia (BEN)
ussoccer.com Man of the Match: