FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – In their final tune-up before their big October tilt with Mexico, the United States fell flat against powerhouse Brazil, who rode a three-goal second half to a 4-1 win Tuesday night at Gillette Stadium.
A brace from second-half substitute Neymar and goals from Hulk and Rafinha led to the undoing of the USMNT, who only got on the board in stoppage time on a long-distance Danny Williams strike. It was a momentous setback following their 2-1 win over Peru on Friday in Washington D.C., forcing the US and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to regroup before their Oct. 10 CONCACAF Cup playoff against El Tri with a spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup on the line.
Brazil looked to be on the brink of breaking down the Americans from the outset.
They did just that in the ninth minute, starting with some great work on the ball from Willian, who powered his way past Alejandro Bedoya, deployed as a defensive midfielder alongside Jermaine Jones in a 4-2-3-1 formation, into the right side of the box.
Willian got his attempt over US goalkeeper Brad Guzan but caught the upper corner of the far post before a friendly rebound found its way to the foot of Hulk, who faked DeAndre Yedlin to the turf before firing home a right-footed strike for an early 1-0 Brazil lead.
On the other end, the US found themselves capable, at times, of moving deep into the final third – with Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley at the attacking midfielder position, flanked by Gyasi Zardes and Yedlin, with club teammate Jozy Altidore up top – but close touches were either sent over too softly or were intercepted by the Brazilian backline.
The best US opportunity to square things came shortly after Brazil gained the lead when Geoff Cameron flicked a pass over two defenders to Altidore. But the striker’s effort in the six wasn’t hit cleanly.
But the first half was almost completely controlled by Brazil.
A late effort by Marcelo, who blasted a point blank shot from the left side that Guzan had the right angle on to push away, nearly doubled the Brazil lead right before halftime.
It didn’t take long for Brazil to open the floodgates.
Just five minutes after the break, Neymar made his impact known, drawing a foul on Cameron in the box to set up a penalty kick that he buried low left, just past the dive of Guzan. The American ‘keeper managed to get his fingertips on the shot, but to no avail.
The breakdown of the US continued on a quick counter through Neymar to Lucas Moura and then Rafinha, who collected in the box and worked the defense before slotting home the third Brazil goal.
Three minutes later they were at it again. This time Lucas found Neymar with a long diagonal effort to the left side of the box, and despite a strong presence of blue jerseys, the star forward easily worked around them and slipped home his second of the match in the 67th minute.
The hosts would finally get on the scoreboard in stoppage time when Williams sent in a bender from distance, catching Brazil ‘keeper Marcelo Grohe off guard.