LAS PALMAS, Gran Canaria (Nov. 14, 2019)—The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team fell 1-0 to Brazil in its opening match at the United International Football Festival in the Canary Islands. The reigning Olympic champion took an early lead but the U.S. rallied during an improved second half and despite some steadfast defensive play combined with a few flashes from the attack, the red, white and blue weren’t able to mount a comeback.
“It was a terrific experience for our players,” U-23 MNT head coach Jason Kreis said. “We can play with this type of opponent. We need to come into this game with a lot braver mentality, to play through them, to defend higher, to put pressure on players earlier.”
“From a learning point of view, we gave Brazil too much respect, too much time and space in the first half, which allowed Brazil to completely dominate possession and the tempo. I thought players were a little bit timid about their positioning defensively and also timid when we had the ball. In the second half, we put ourselves in better positions to pressure the ball and the mentality was better, it was a little more brave.”
Brazil held the better of attack in the early going, methodically building up in possession as well as jumping on any U.S. miscues to spring into transition. The South Americans found the game’s opening goal doing the latter – as the USA misplayed a ball out of the back, Brazil pounced on the opportunity. Forward Cunha hit a hard, low-rolling shot to the left post to give the South Americans an early lead.
While the U.S. found some dangerous moments in transition, the team struggled to threaten inside the Brazilian box. Brazil didn’t back down when the USA attempted to build out, pressuring the back line and winning some balls inside the American defensive third. Brazil nearly doubled its lead in the 38th minute, when a great ball into the box found the head of Wendel crashing towards goal, but the attempt flew over the crossbar.
U-23 MNT head coach Jason Kreis made a number of changes to start the second half, bringing on Brenden Aaronson and Christian Cappis in the midfield as well as Sebastian Saucedo and Mason Toye on the front line. The USA took a more aggressive approach after the break and showed better against the four-time Olympic medalists.
After a busy opening 45 minutes, U.S. goalkeeper Matt Freese was called into action again just after the break to snuff out a Brazil chance on a free kick from dangerous territory. Brazil created a number of other close calls, hitting the post in the 57th minute and firing just wide in the 64th, but as the half wore on, the U.S. attack showed some flashes moving forward.
The fresh legs provided a spark for the USA, and the red, white and blue carved out its best chance of the evening around the 72nd minute. Captain Djordje Mihailovic and forward Brooks Lennon worked the ball to Aaronson just inside the box, and the Philadelphia Union star dished to Saucedo near the top of the box but his shot missed wide.
Aaronson took a hit of his own from beyond the box in the final minutes of regulation as the U.S. took one last shot at an equalizer, but his attempt also sailed wide.
U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team Match Report
Match: U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team vs. Brazil
Date: Nov. 14, 2019
Competition: United International Football Festival
Venue: Estadio Gran Canaria; Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain
Kick-off: 5:15 p.m. local, 12:15 p.m. ET
Weather: 68 degrees, partly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
BRA 1 0 0
BRA – Cunha 16th minute
USA: 22-Matt Freese; 3-Aaron Herrera, 6-Mark McKenzie, 5-Justen Glad, 23-Sam Vines; 13-Hassani Dotson (16-Christian Cappis, 46), 8-Djordje Mihailovic (capt.) (21-Emmanuel Sabbi, 85), 10-Richard Ledezma (20-Brenden Aaronson, 46); 11-Brooks Lennon (17-Alex Mendez, 77), 9-Jeremy Ebobisse (18-Mason Toye, 46), 7-Jonathan Lewis (15-Sebastian Saucedo, 46)
Subs not used: 1-JT Marcinkowski, 2-Antonee Robinson, 4-Cameron Carter-Vickers, 12-Brady Scott, 14-Chris Richards, 19-Kyle Duncan, 24-James Sands
Head coach: Jason Kreis
BRA: 2-Guga (23-Dodo, 82), 3-Lyanco (capt.), 4-Ibañez, 5-Wendel (15-Thiago, Maia, 82), 6-Caio Henrique, 7-Paulinho, 8-Matheus Henrique, 9-Matheus Cunha, 10-Pedrinho (20-Lucas Fernandes, 75), 12-Phelipe, 17-Gabriel Martinelli (21-Artur, 75)
Subs not used: 1-Ivan, 11-Mauro Junior, 13-Walce, 14-Rodrigo, 16-Ayrton, 18-Douglas Augusto, 19-Pedro, 22-Anderson
Head coach: Andre Jardine
BRA – Caution 90th minute
Referee: Juan Luis Pulido Santana
Assistant Referee 1: Borja Manuel Mateos
Assistant Referee 2: Jesus Alfredo Mateo Santana
Fourth Official: Miguel Esteban Hdez Glez