On Wednesday, May 30, Brazil continued its dominance over the United States men's national team with a 4-1 victory in an international friendly. The U.S. has until this Sunday to figure out what went wrong before it plays at Canada.
Here are three thoughts on the game:
The final score of this match isn't indicative of how competitive it was. Brazil certainly earned the win, but the Americans had their opportunities to keep this game close. In fact, I'm still stunned at how many chances the U.S. had in the Brazilian penalty area. I also believe that this match would have turned out differently if Oguchi Onyewu hadn't been called for an early handball. I'm not saying that the U.S would have won, but it definitely would have been a closer game.
However, any excitement that I'm feeling over how the Americans played is somewhat tempered because they were taking on what was basically Brazil's U-23 team. It's disheartening to know that the senior U.S. national team wasn't able to keep up with the Brazilians' Olympic squad. Yes, I understand that it's Brazil that the Americans were playing, but it's still a humbling loss.
Fabian Johnson earns his spot
It seems like everyone is praising defender Fabian Johnson for his performance in the team's last two matches, so it's only fair that I jump on the bandwagon. The U.S. has had problems solving the left back position for years. I've lost count of all the players that national team coaches have tried out at left back in the past decade, but none of them have taken over the position. Johnson has played so well in the friendlies against Scotland and Brazil that it's beginning to look like he's the one to fill the void on the American back line.
It's been surreal to watch U.S. become more of a threat offensively in its last few games. I've seen quite a few American matches against Brazil over the years. They almost always end in a brutal loss for the U.S., but there was something different about this game. I've never seen the Americans threaten the Brazilian goal like they did in this friendly. They probably should have scored two or three goals instead of finishing with one.
The Brazil loss is a setback, but the offensive improvement being exhibited by the U.S. is enough to maintain a bright outlook about the team moving forward. The 4-1 result hurts, but I'm looking forward to seeing the Americans grow stronger as they attempt to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
Derek Ciapala has been a fan of international soccer since the United States hosted the World Cup in 1994. His favorite moment in international football is Landon Donovan's last minute goal against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala or Facebook.