Five Things to Watch: #USAvBRA

Michael Bradley Back in the Fold

U.S. captain Michael Bradley flew through three time zones and arrived into camp Sunday and took in his lone training session with the team Monday afternoon.

Despite playing 90 minutes in Toronto FC’s 2-1 defeat at Seattle on Saturday, when asked how he felt about a quick turnaround to play in Tuesday night’s friendly against Brazil, Bradley said, “I’m used to this. I feel good, very good.”

Prior to the match, U.S. Soccer will honor Bradley for his 100th cap, which he achieved in the USA’s win against Honduras on July 7 in Frisco, Texas.

Bradley follows veteran midfielder Jermaine Jones back into the team after Jones’ return from injury, following hernia surgery that forced him out of this summer’s Gold Cup.

“It’s very good to have him back. His presence on the field within the group is important. Over the last few years he has been an important player for us. When you go through a period of playing without him, especially with some big games coming up, it’s good to get him back with the group,” Bradley said of Jones presence on the team.

Record in Foxborough

Much like their experiences at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., the MNT has a long history of success in Foxborough, Massachusetts, earning a 17-2-5 record through the years at old Foxboro Stadium and now Gillette Stadium.

The biggest victory came Oct. 7, 2001, when two goals from Joe-Max Moore lifted the U.S. to a 2-1 against Jamaica that improbably secured a ticket to the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Back in 1993, the MNT collected a 2-0 victory against England on June 9 in the U.S. Cup, the prelude to the 1994 World Cup hosted in the United States. Landon Donovan became one of three U.S. players to put in four goals in one game, leading a rout against Cuba in the stadium in the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal.

Dating back to 1997, the MNT is 6-0-1 all-time in World Cup qualifying matches and 7-0-2 in CONCACAF Gold Cup matches played in Foxborough.

And then the record against Brazil…

While the MNT has racked up a good record in the Boston area, the team’s record against Brazil isn’t quite as stellar.

In 17 matches against Brazil, the U.S. has won just once, a 1-0 victory in the 1998 Gold Cup Semifinals played in Los Angeles. Kasey Keller, the MNT’s goalkeeping coach for this camp, made 10 saves to earn the clean sheet in that game, with Brazilian striker Romario calling it the best performance he’d ever seen by a goalkeeper. Keller will be part of the ESPN broadcast crew for tonight’s match, but before joining up with them, he recounted the tale of one of the most famous victories in MNT history.

Playing the Best

To be the best you’ve got to beat the best. The U.S. has proven that it wants to compete against the world’s top teams, with Tuesday’s matchup against Brazil marking the MNT’s sixth against an opponent ranked in the top 20 of FIFA’s world rankings this year. The team has collected a 3-1-1 record so far in those contests. 

Tuesday’s meeting is also the third in 2015 against a team ranked in the top six in the World. In June, the MNT defeated both the Netherlands (ranked #6) and 2014 World Cup champion Germany.

World Cup Qualifying Watch

While the MNT faces Brazil in a friendly tonight, elsewhere the second legs of Third Round CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying will be taking place around the region and two matches have specific implications for the United States.

Kicking off at 8 p.m. ET, Aruba hosts St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Oranjestad, hoping to overcome the 2-0 deficit the team suffered in Friday’s first leg. Two hours later, Guatemala hosts Antigua & Barbuda at Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City, looking to overturn the 1-0 defeat the side was dealt last Friday in North Sound.

The winners of the two aggregate series will join the United States and Trinidad & Tobago in Group C of Semifinal Round CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. The MNT will kick off their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign against the winner of Aruba/St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Nov. 13 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.