Dunga is no longer the Brazil coach but that did not stop his successor, Mano Menezes, from approaching Tuesday night’s international friendly against the United States with the no-nonsense mentality that had been instilled into the Selecao during the World Cup.
First-half goals from debutant Neymar da Silva and AC Milan striker Alexander Pato only tell half the story of Brazil’s dominance throughout their 2-0 triumph in East Rutherford, New Jersey. They started the night confidently with a huge chunk of the crowd well behind them and they ended the game so comfortably that they looked completely at home.
After all, they never allowed a nearly full-strength United States side to even get a decent passing rhymthm going, let alone building up the kind of momentum that allowed Bob Bradley’s men to win their group in South Africa. In fact, in what may have been Bradley’s last game in-charge, his squad was – at best – a shadow of the team that returned from the World Cup with its dignity well intact.
Granted, when Brazil is playing with its trademark fluidity and confidence, few can accuse an emerging young team such as the U.S. for failing to get into an offensive rhythm. But even defensively, the goals that were conceded were easily avoidable, to say the least.
Tim Howard was left helpless when Neymar was left unmarked to open the scoring with a comfortably headed goal midway through the first period. In the final moments before the interval, the Everton shot-stopper was once again let down terribly when Carlos Bocanegra let Pato through on goal to double the visitors’ advantage.
Los Angeles Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez, who made his highly anticipated debut in last night’s friendly, offered little support to Bocanegra and the rest of the crew as nerves understandably took over from the swagger that led him to the MLS Rookie of the Year award last season.
Omar’s club teammate Edson Buddle also failed to carry his domestic form to the international stage as the U.S. playmakers – including Landon Donovan – could not find a way to provide him the service he needed against the South Americans’ air-tight defense.
Bradley’s prospective departure to negotiate with the likes of Aston Villa means that a new era could be about to start for soccer in the United States. While the manner of defeat to Brazil was quite disheartening, one can only hope that following a successful World Cup campaign, the development of the sport takes another step in the right direction.