LANDOVER, Md. – If US national team boss Jurgen Klinsmann wants to infuse nastiness in his team after their 4-1 loss against Brazil on Wednesday night, the coach of the five-time World Cup champs is trying to reign it in.
"Sometimes the US did get tough and our players got into that kind of provoking," Menezes said through a translator after the match. "I asked the players at halftime to avoid getting caught up in it. Brazilian soccer needs to learn sometimes about that. We need to keep calm and keep our cool and keep players in the game.
"There were moments that we could’ve gotten cards and I don’t want my players to get into that type of provoking."
Menezes is probably referring to his Man of the Match and left back Marcelo, who kicked a ball into the USA's Steve Cherundolo when play was dead and then kicked up at American forward Herculez Gomez on a separate tackle.
But extracurriculars aside, Menezes left FedEx Field a happy man. After a 3-1 win against Euro-bound Denmark last weekend, he rates the 4-1 victory to be even more important as Brazil gets ready for the 2012 London Olympics with what is largely an Under-23 team.
"I didn't expect it," Menezes said of the back-to-back wins. "But I had the confidence even with young players. Since the beginning I knew we could trust them, building with this team and blending more experienced players. … You can see it in the faces of the players – they‘re savoring the accomplishment and I’m part of the group as well in feeling that result."
Menezes, who claimed that his team played even better against the US than they had against Denmark, can credit a lot of Wednesday's success to his two most recent arrivals in camp: the Santos FC duo of Neymar and goalkeeper Rafael, who made his debut. They only joined the squad in D.C.
"I'm very happy about the saves," Rafael said about his sensational double save on Herculez Gomez and Terrence Boyd in the 77th minute. "We always work for shutouts and, unfortunately, we ended up giving up a goal, but we’ll keep working on it."
Neymar, in particular, continues to be a thorn in the side of the US. He featured in Brazil's 2-0 win in the first match of the Menezes era against Bob Bradley's squad in 2010. And he inflicted damage once again on Wednesday night with a PK goal and two assists.
"It’s not everyday that I can come and pull off all sorts of dribbling moves – between the legs and over the head," Neymar said through a translator after the match. "But with one goal and two assists, I’m pretty happy about that."