New England Soccer Today

Finishing Clinic

There was little U.S. midfielder Maurice Edu in the face of Brazil's lethal attack during Wednesday's friendly. (Photo: Kari Heistad)

Clinical finishing and superb goalkeeping proved to be the winning formula for Brazil as they defeated the U.S. Men’s National Team, 4-1, at FedEx Field in Landover, Md, on Wednesday night.

Brazil came out strong in the first half grabbing a 2-0 lead with goals from Neymar and Thiago Silva before the U.S. cut the lead to one just before halftime with a goal from Herculez Gomez. Despite the U.S. coming out with an improved performance in the second half and finishing the match with a 15-11 advantage in shots on goal, Brazil proved deadly on the counter attack, adding goals through Marcelo and Pato and pushing their lead to 4-1.

The visitors set the tone early and opened the scoring in just the 12th minute on a penalty kick by Neymar. Leandro Damião earned the spot kick after blasting a shot that was blocked by the arm of U.S. center back Oguchi Onyewu and the whistle immediately sounded for a handball. Neymar slotted it inside the post with goalkeeper Tim Howard diving the wrong way to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

Damião should’ve made it 2-0 for Brazil in the 18th minute, getting behind the defense on a nice flick from midfield. The 22-year-old dribbled in alone on goal, but saw his shot blocked by an onrushing Tim Howard.

Thiago Silva made no mistake eight minutes later and doubled the advantage for Brazil. The 27-year-old captain lost his mark Jermaine Jones and powered a header off a Neymar corner kick to make it 2-0.

The U.S. pulled one back just before halftime after some great play down the left flank. Michael Bradley played a through ball behind the defense, finding an onrushing Fabian Johnson, who played a quick cross in front of goal. Johnson’s cross eluded Brazil goalkeeper Rafael and found Gomez, who headed it into the empty net.

Seven minutes into the second half, Brazil brought their lead back to two. Hulk played Neymar into the left side of the box, where the 20-year-old star forward played it into the center of the box for Marcelo. The Real Madrid defender made no mistake, blasting it into the net to give Brazil the 3-2 edge.

The U.S. came inches away from pulling one back in the 64th minute when Fabian Johnson sent a cross into the box after some nice work on the left flank. Gomez got on the end of the cross and headed in across the goal line, where Clint Dempsey charged in on goal. Dempsey, a second half substitute, nearly got there, but Brazil’s Rômulo managed to clear it off the line at the last second.

Two minutes later Brazil nearly put the game out of reach, but Pato was denied by the post after being set up by Neymar.

Rafael then somehow denied the U.S. twice in the 77th after Dempsey played Gomez behind the defense. The Santos Laguna forward blasted a shot on frame that Rafael managed to keep out with his feet, despite diving away from it. The rebound fell to substitute Terrence Boyd, who immediately blasted it on frame, but Rafael again shockingly managed to keep it out with his feet.

It was the U.S. on the attack again in the 85th minute. First Bradley’s powerful header off a Landon Donovan free kick was denied by a great save from Rafael and then Onyewu’s header off a Donovan corner was kept out only by the crossbar.

Pato then finished off the U.S. in the 87th minute, getting the ball in the right side of the box off a cross from Marcelo. The A.C. Milan striker blasted a shot inside the far post to make it 4-1 in favor of Brazil.

The U.S. returns to action on Sunday, taking on Canada at BMO Field in Toronto at 7 p.m.

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