USA vs Brazil
New Meadowlands Stadium, New Jersey
Tuesday, 10 August 2010
08:00 PM (Local Time)
Though their World Cup ended with a heart-wrenching extra time loss to Ghana in the Round of 16, the USA’s 2010 cycle truly comes to a close on Tuesday in New Jersey. The Americans will take on Brazil in their first match wince leaving South Africa, a game which has a lame duck feel to it for the home side.
New Brazil manager Mano Menezes has called in a young, exciting roster, the future of the Selecao, looking ahead to the next four years and a World Cup on home soil; Bob Bradley has called in many of the usual suspects, players he relied heavily on in June.
Bradley’s status moving forward is still uncertain, giving the game even less import than friendlies like this usually possess. From an American perspective, the game looks like nothing but a money grab; with only a few players in the squad who were not in South Africa, Bradley and US Soccer apparently have no interest in following the same path as Mendes.
Those Americans let off of duty are either looking for new clubs (Jay DeMerit) or are better served staying with their clubs for other reasons (Clint Dempsey, Oguchi Onyewu).
Neither Charlie Davies, who seemed a possibility but is yet to return to full fitness, nor Jermaine Jones, who was originally called but withdrew due to his own recovery efforts at Schalke, will appear. Davies might have given the game a bit of juice in a feel-good way, and Jones has long been the source of American frustration after declaring his desire to play for the US before an injury kept him out for over a year. Same old same old would be easier swallowed with either or both in the squad.
There are a few next-wave names on the rosters who might get a chance to impress. Sacha Kljestan recently moved to Anderlecht from Chivas USA of Major League Soccer, and brings a creative spark in central midfielder. On the wing, Alejandro Bedoya of Örebro in Sweden, a player who just missed out on South Africa, is an exciting player full of promise.
Criticism of Bradley’s roster is easy, though circumstances make it somewhat understandable. There is essentially no time to train, and the American talent pool is not stocked with established players of a younger generation as is Brazil’s. Neymar, Pato, and the other exciting players at Menezes disposal are light years beyond anything the US has; excuses aside, friendlies later in the year will provide whomever is coaching the Yanks a chance to bring in new names.
This match is instead treated as a chance to honor the bulk of American World Cup group, a public thank you for a solid four year cycle and a uplifting (if ultimately disappointing) performance in South Africa.
Experience should help the Americans deal with the deficit of skill they’ll face against this Brazil side. Expectations are that Menezes will move the Samba Kings back towards jugo bonito after the Dunga regime stifled creativity in deference to better defending and organization; what that means for Tuesday is hard to know, but Brazil looks prepared to put on a show.
Bradley will no doubt counter with his usual 4-4-2; barring a drastic change, two defensive-minded central midfielders will support the back line while any attack is generated through speedy counterattacks and set pieces. Should Brazil’s young stars find cracks in a defense that will likely include at least one second-choice player, Tim Howard will need to do his usual sterling work to keep the score close.
That being said, the Americans are certainly capable of putting in a goal or two. They have height to threaten on corners and free kicks, while Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley are dangerous out of the midfield. The Americans biggest problem, one likely to dominate the next four years of international play, is their lack of scoring punch from the forwards.
Twenty year-old Jozy Altidore (called in to replace the aforementioned Jermaine Jones on the roster) has struggled to find the net despite continued improvement in hold up player and passing. Edson Buddle was the feel good story just making the US World Cup team, and while he’s scoring in Major League Soccer (a league-leading twelve goals on the season), he’s not the future.
The speedy Robbie Findley showed little in South Africa despite multiple opportunities, and surprise World Cup choice Herculez Gomez has yet to replicate with the National Team the Mexican league scoring touch that got him on the plane to South Africa.
Brazil’s transition has begun, and the Selecao will take a large step towards change on Tuesday. The Brazil in New Jersey will hardly resemble the Brazil we saw in South Africa. Meanwhile, their American opponents are most correctly said to be moving in the direction of transition, but have yet to begin the process; until the coaching situation is settled and a younger generation of players is called in, the USA will be almost exactly the USA we saw in South Africa.
Tuesday’s match will be the first sporting event hosted by the New Meadowlands Stadium, a venue that sits next door to the former site of its predecessor. Brazil’s approach fits the venue, a shiny new lineup for a shiny new building, while the American will bring their remnants and holdovers, a team perhaps more appropriate for the now-demolished Giants Stadium.
Though, if this friendly is at all about winning, the American approach will give them their best chance to leave New Jersey victorious.
Goalkeepers: Tim Howard (Everton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa).
Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hanover), Clarence Goodson (Start), Jonathan Spector (West Ham), Chad Marshall (Columbus)*.
Midfielders: Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Michael Bradley (Moenchengladbach), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus), Jermaine Jones (Schalke)*, Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht)*, Alejandro Bedoya (Orebro)*.
Forwards: Edson Buddle (Los Angeles), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Herculez Gomez (Pachuca).
Goalkeepers: Renan (Avai), Jefferson (Botafogo), Victor (Gremio).
Defenders: David Luiz (Benfica), Henrique (Racing Santander), Rever (Atletico Mineiro), Thiago Silva (AC Milan).
Midfielders: Rafael (Manchester United), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Andre Santos (Fenerbahce), Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Ederson (Lyon), Carlos Eduardo (Hoffenheim), Hernanes (Sao Paulo), Paulo Henrique Ganso (Santos), Lucas (Liverpool), Jucilei (Corinthians), Ramires (Benfica).
Attackers: Robinho (Santos), Neymar (Santos), Alexandre Pato (AC Milan), Andre (Santos), Diego Tardelli (Atletico Mineiro).
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