LANDOVER, Md. – Brazilian star Neymar put on a show, registering a goal and two assists as Brazil took a 4-1 victory over the US national team on Wednesday night in their international friendly at FedEx Field.
The 20-year-old Santos star opened the scoring on a 12th-minute penalty kick and then served up the corner kick headed home by Brazil central defender Thiago Silva 14 minutes later for a 2-0 lead.
The US reduced the deficit just before halftime when Herculez Gomez crashed the goal and headed home a headed Fabian Johnson cross. But Neymar served another cross on a platter to Marcelo for the visitors’ third goal just minutes into the second half.
With the US pressing forward and creating a flurry of opportunities to close out the match, Alexandre Pato added a final strike, expertly finishing a cross from Marcelo three minutes from time to put an exclamation point on the scoreline.
After a tentative start to the match by both sides, a sequence of intense pressure by the Brazilians in the US half led to a 10th-minute shot from the left side by a wide-open Leandro Damião, which deflected off the arm of US defender Oguchi Onyewu in the box. Referee Jeffrey Calderon did not hesitate to call the spot kick which Neymar converted.
After going down 1-0, the US responded with shots from Maurice Edu and Gomez, who also nearly connected with a Johnson cross in the 17th minute, though the team was by-and-large predictable in attack through much of the half.
Brazil, on the other hand looked most incisive in attack when they launched their quick passing combinations. They nearly added a second on 18 minutes, only for Tim Howard to deny Damião one-on-one.
Not long after, the visitors outdid the Americans on a dead ball situation just a minute later as Silva wriggled free of his marker to flick home a Neymar corner, leaving Onyewu and Jermaine Jones staring at each other in confusion.
The US entered halftime with a glimmer of hope after reducing the deficit just before the break. Edu won the ball in midfield and Bradley sprung Johnson, who was making another marauding run, and crossed from the end line. His ball took a deflection off a defender near the goal line and bounced up for Gomez to head home his third goal in a US jersey in his first start since 2010.
Brazil halted any momentum the US garnered from the goal when they scored just seven minutes into the second half. Marcelo, who plays for Real Madrid, started the play running unimpeded down the middle of the field and feeding Hulk on the left, who poked ahead to Neymar. The star winger penetrated the box and cut the ball back to Marcelo, who trailed the play and slid home to deposit in the back of the net for a 3-1 lead.
It was a man-of-the-match performance by Marcelo, who commanded his flank and constantly denied US veteran Landon Donovan down the right side.
The star on the other side of the field was US left back Johnson, who made a spectacular move to free himself for a cross in the 63rd minute. Gomez headed down at the far post but second-half substitute Clint Dempsey somehow failed to get a touch on the service at the goal line and it was cleared for a corner kick.
However, the Brazilian side continued to threaten as well, with substitute Pato striking the post from close range soon after coming on.
In addition to Dempsey, US manager Jurgen Klinsmann brought on more fresh legs and they resulted in a flurry of chances for the US. Brazil debutant goalkeeper Rafael denied the Americans on their best opportunity in the 77th minute, blocking a Gomez diagonal shot and then deflecting Terrence Boyd’s point-blank follow-through shot.
Rafael again came up big five minutes from time, swatting away a Michael Bradley header from a Donovan free kick. On the ensuing corner kick, Onyewu’s header clattered against the crossbar.
The fiery finish by the US was extinguished by Pato’s goal, which came with the US pressing forward. Marcelo found the AC Milan forward unmarked on the far right side of the penalty area and he was unforgiving with the finish.
The win was the eighth in a row for Brazil, who next take on Mexico on June 3 at Cowboys Stadium and then face Argentina on June 9 at MetLife Stadium.
Meanwhile, the US continue their preparations for the opening of the World Cup qualifying when they take on CONCACAF foe Canada on Sunday (NBC Sports Network and Univision Deportes).
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Marcelo||A superb performance from the left back. Kept Donovan quiet all game along, commanded the left flank, and had a fine goal plus two assists.|
|2||Neymar||Starlet was in and out of the first half, but still gave the US defense plenty of problems with pace and skill. Coolly converted his penalty, added two assists, and it probably should have been three.|
|3||Michael Bradley||Shone for the second-straight game in the US midfield, pinging passes wherever he pleased, including a crucial through ball on Gomez's call. Was caught out on Brazil's third, though.|