Tuesday, August 10, 2010

USA vs Brazil 0-2 International Friendly

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 10:  The U.S. and Brazil stand on the field before a friendly match at the New Meadowlands on August 10, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
The USA vs. Brazil soccer friendly was the first national team match since the team's departure from the 2010 World Cup, and it ended much in the same fashion. In other words, the men's USA soccer team disappointed on a
big stage, failing to capitalize on a once growing momentum for the sport in the country. Brazil, showcasing a squad largely devoid of the first stringers that fans watched in the World Cup, easily handled a USA team that can best be described as flawed, defeating them 2-0 in front of a massive crowd in the New Meadowlands Stadium.

Obviously any Brazilian squad will be uber-talented, even when it features only four players that made the first string, 23-man roster from the recent World Cup. For example, Neymar, who former coach Dunga was massively ridiculed for leaving off the World Cup roster, shined against his less athletic, less skilled and less cohesive competition. He represents the more freewheeling, loose and entertaining "beautiful game" that Brazil is known for, as opposed to the more concise and controlled methods that Dunga had preferred before his unceremonious removal as the coach of the national team.

Still, the friendly match, an exhibition, could seemingly not have gone worse for the USA soccer squad. This is particularly true for coach Bob Bradley, who is widely viewed as being on a short leash after the questionable lineup calls he made which factored into the team's early departure from the 2010 World Cup.

It seemed that hardly any of the players were in top form, and the team, as everyone saw in South Africa, could not work together to become greater than its parts. Ironically, it's the coach's son, Michael Bradley, who continues to shine the brightest amongst his peers. This holds true even on a team with Landon Donovan, the closest thing to a USA men's soccer star that perhaps the team has ever had.
Ultimately, the USA vs. Brazil soccer friendly doesn't "mean" anything. As an exhibition match, there was no qualifications at stake, and no points to be had. But when playing in front of a hometown crowd, with nearly
all of your top tier players against a squad lacking much of its own star power, a win should be expected. If not a win, then at least a close, competitive match.

Therefore, even though this was a friendly, the USA vs. Brazil match does mean quite a bit. It could have offered redemption. It could have offered hope for the future. But instead it showcased more of the same, and for USA soccer, that certainly isn't a good thing.

Watching the way the USA soccer team was dispatched from the 2010 World Cup, and subsequently how they lost terribly in this 2-0 defeat in the USA vs. Brazil friendly, the top-15 FIFA World ranking that the team enjoys is laughable. Bob Bradley should be counting his days at the helm, because the powers that be should be realizing that he is not the long term solution to USA soccer's problem.

The real solution is not only more athletic and skilled players, but also better preparation and performance when it counts the most. In four years, the USA team will hopefully be headed to another World Cup, this one hosted by none other than Brazil. For our sake, after watching this 2-0 USA vs. Brazil defeat, let's hope we don't get slotted against the home team in the early goings, or our pre-tournament buzz will be, as per usual, squashed prematurely.