There is no such thing as a friendly soccer match. I am speaking as a Brazilian-bred soccer expert who’s been living and breathing the sport as long as I can remember. Even though it was no secret that the Seleção was going to send some young unknown players, to a Brazilian, losing any soccer, ahem, football match is a small tragedy.
Team USA showed up as excited as a young child sitting at the adults’ table for the first time. Around 60,000 fans packing FedEx Field chanting the universally criticized “USA USA USA” should have given the Americans at least home field advantage. However, despite recent improvement from the home team, it was 4-1 highlight reel for the young Brazilians.
The two recent appearances under coach Jurgen Klinsmann were a 5-1 slaughter of Scotland and a 1-0 victory over powerhouse Italy. Team USA was hoping to build on such promising results in the matches leading up to World Cup 2014. The Brazilian team was hoping to give their team the identity and leadership it needs leading up to first World Cup held in their soil since 1950.
Brazil scored first: a penalty kick taken by Neymar after a hand ball by American defender Oguchi Onyewu in the 12th minute. Team USA tried to equalize the score by playing much more aggressively than it had in recent years. However, Rafael, the young Brazilian goalie made save after spectacular save. Silva scored in the 26th minute, but the Americans were able to make closer finishing the half within one goal after Hercules Gomez’s score in 45th minute.
The second half was a clinic in the Brazilian way of playing football “Jogo Bonito” – literal meaning: the beautiful game. Marcelo scored on the 55th minute; Pato scored on the 87th minute of regulation. Fancy footwork and a little showmanship was served as a side dish by a young Brazilian team that had Neymar as its only real star. Most of their players are auditioning for the most pressured filled World Cup in the country’s history.
Team USA, on the other hand, was happy to participate. The Americans took more shots (17 vs 13) than the Brazilians. Coach Klinsmann was left optimistic: “From a performance point of view I think we saw many good elements, many good things” when speaking of his team’s future. Yet, he was also critical of the refereeing; “The fourth goal, my information is the guy was two yards offside”… “So you’re talking about a goal that’s two yards offside and a penalty that may not be, so it kind of pisses me off to be honest.”
As they say in Brazil, “Bola pra Frente” meaning: keep the ball rolling. Both teams have a lot of work ahead of them. The “friendly” matches have just started.