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Landon Donovan

U.S. Knocking on the Door During Brazil Bouts

U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s group prepares for one of the world’s best when the USA and Brazil square off on May 30 in Landover, Md. Though Brazil has held the clear-cut advantage in the series with a robust 15-1-0 record, 11 of those matches have been decided by only one goal.

The U.S. Men’s National Team has had some highlights against soccer’s longtime powerhouse Brazil. You just have to look carefully for them.

There is no denying that Brazil has held the upper hand against the U.S. since the two teams first debuted against each other in 1930. But one thing that consistently rings true is the fact that the U.S. can utilize this matchup as a barometer for where the team stands.

U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann wants to challenge his players by putting them in hostile, uncomfortable environments, against difficult opposition, and Brazil without question qualifies in every area as the two teams meet on Wednesday, May 30, in Landover, Md. Kickoff at FedExField is at 8 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on ESPN2, ESPN3 and Univision.

The USA-Brazil series started on Aug. 17, 1930, with Brazil pulling off a 4-3 win against the U.S. at Alvaro Chaves Stadium in Rio de Janiero. But the matchups truly got started in the early 1990s, when host Brazil cruised to a 3-0 win on Feb. 26, 1992.

The U.S. Men found some sense of progression in the series when they hosted Brazil for the first time on Aug. 2, 1992. The U.S. held Brazil scoreless until Beto’s 77th-minute goal – the lone blemish for goalkeeper Tony Meola and the USA defense during the 1-0 loss. But Meola’s four-save effort stood out to former Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Perriera: “He can play with the big teams in the world.”

After several years of mostly 1-0 losses to Brazil, the U.S. earned a thrilling victory against FIFA’s top-ranked team on Feb. 10, 1998. Led by Kasey Keller’s 10-save performance and Preki’s 65th-minute goal, the U.S. made headlines with its 1-0 victory in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Brazil had the possession advantage (57 percent), the shots advantage (21-12) and the shots on goal advantage (10-5). But the USA defied the numbers and percentages en route to its first win against Brazil. Brazil entered that match with a 46-1-10 record since the 1994 World Cup.

“I think it has to rate as the single greatest performance by a goalkeeper in U.S. Soccer history,” former U.S. head coach Steve Sampson said.

Brazil would be the runner-up to host France in the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

The current U.S. team prepares for Brazil for the 17th time on May 30. Brazil holds a robust 15-1-0 record against the U.S., but 11 of those matches have been decided by only one goal. And based on some of the more recent matches over the past decade, the USA has on occasion put Brazil on the edge.

One of the most thrilling efforts took place at the Orange Bowl in Miami on July 23, 2003. The U.S. held a 1-0 lead in the second half against Brazil in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, with Carlos Bocanegra giving the USA the one-goal advantage in the 62nd minute. But Brazil fought back to tie the score at 1-1 in the 89th minute on a Kaka goal. Then in overtime, Diego gave the Brazilians the win with his penalty kick in the 98th minute.

Another barometric Brazil match included the FIFA Confederations Cup, when for the first time, the U.S. held a two-goal lead against Brazil on June 28, 2009. Clint Dempsey finessed a cross just inside the far left post for the 1-0 lead in the 10th minute, and Landon Donovan maneuvered past his defender, got the goalkeeper to lean the wrong way and found the back of the net in the 27th minute for the two-goal lead. USA supporters, however, saw their range of emotions span the full scale as a promising start evaporated into a Brazil victory.

Donovan summed things up best following that Confederations Cup match: “We are in the position where we don’t want respect – we want to win.”