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Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Updated: June 21, 10:29 AM ET
U.S. versus Brazil play-by-play


We're a few minutes from kickoff.

The teams are walking onto the field for the national anthems. The U.S. is 1-12-0 (W-L-T) all-time against Brazil.

1 min: We're off, and the ball is kicked backwards to Onyewu, who hoofs it up the left sideline and Lucio knocks it back to his keeper Cesar.

2 mins: First corner of the day, it's for Brazil, but it's headed clear by Donovan.

3 mins: Long ball forward by Brazil almost catches the U.S. back line sleeping as Robinho had burst clear past Bornstein. The ball's just too far for him though.

4 mins: Kaka goes on his first weaving run of the day, beating two U.S. players off the dribble down the right sideline and earning a corner. I'm probably in the minority here but I don't think Kaka's quite the player he was a few years ago - his knee problems have cost him a little bit of pace and he can no longer breeze effortlessly past 4-5 players on long, winding runs anymore. Having said that, it's such a minor flaw, it's like pointing out that Megan Fox's thumbs are ugly. He's still an incredible player. The corner was cleared easily by the way.

6 mins: GOAL: Brazil 1-0 U.S. Brazil earns a dubious free kick out on the right. Maicon curls in a superb cross to the far back post and Felipe Melo is there to power the ball home. He snuck in past Spector.

8 mins: The U.S. has yet to string together any passes past halfway.

9 mins: A long punt by Howard finds Donovan in the Brazilian half, he tries to surge forward but is dispossessed by Silva. He looks for a foul call but there's none forthcoming, that was a pretty clean challenge.

10 mins: Another run by Maicon down the right earns Brazil a free kick. The delivery is low and cleared but Beasley gives the ball away just outside the box and the ball is played back into Fabiano in the penalty area. Fabiano turns Bornstain and squares dangerously across the 6-yard box but the U.S. clears.

13 mins: Brazil are stroking the ball around right now. The ball is passed swiftly to Kaka who breaks into the U.S. and rounds Kljestan to the byline but his pull back is blocked. From the corner, the U.S. clears at the fifth attempt. Sketchy defending all round there.

14 mins: "Is Beasley the most overrated U.S. player of all time?" asks an e-mail from Scott in Chicago, who clearly seems to think there are people out there that rated Beasley in the first place.

15 mins: Kljestan chips the ball out to Donovan on the right wing, but Santos steps in and takes the ball smoothly away from him. Donovan's first touch there was poor.

16 mins: OK, I admit I'm being harsh on Beasley, he was very good in the 2002 World Cup where he showed a penchant for darting, explosive runs down the flank. I wonder what happened to those runs? They'd make a good subject for a VH1 "Where Are They Now" documentary.

18 mins: A throw-in from near the Brazilian box by Onyewu turns into a swift counter by Kaka, who takes the ball from the edge of his box all the way to the U.S. area, before trying a slide-rule pass to Robinho. Robinho can't get there and tries diving instead.

19 mins. GOAL: Brazil 2-0 U.S. Shocking mistake by Beasley. Donovan and the U.S. have a short corner and the ball is played short to Beasley who fails to control the ball and lets it run under his feet to Santos, who clears it to Kaka. Kaka flips it to Ramires, who breaks the length of the field into the U.S. box. Brazil have a 2 on 1 counter with only Spector back for the U.S., Ramires squares to Robinho, who is all alone in the box and slots it coolly past Howard.

21 mins: The U.S. are being penned down in their half again, but Onyewu makes a nice tackle on Ramires on the box and clears out to Altidore down the left. Altidore tries to run at Lucio but fails to get past him.

23 mins: The feed from South Africa has gone down, so we're as much in the dark as you right now.

24 mins: Still waiting on the feed ... a recent scientific study has shown that boys who have a so-called "warrior gene" are more likely to join gangs and also more likely to be among the most violent members and to use weapons. In 2006, the controversial warrior gene was implicated in the violence of the indigenous Maori people in New Zealand, a claim that Maori leaders dismissed. If this warrior gene does exist, I wonder if there's a soccer equivalent. Are American players missing a "goal-scoring" gene?

25 mins: And we're back on air!

27 mins: Bradley gets stripped of the ball in midfield by Fabiano, who breaks to the edge of the U.S. box, tries to go 1 on 5 and slams a shot well wide off the mark.

28 mins: The U.S. are having major problems trying to get the ball out of their own half or even stringing passes together. In the meantime, Brazil are strolling around like it's a Sunday rec league game.

32 mins: U.S. wins a corner. Donovan drives it high into the middle, but there's only Brazilian defenders there and they clear. The ball is knocked back in to Donovan on the right wing, who's hounded by Lucio. Donovan knocks it back to Bradley, who has time and space on the edge of the box, but lofts a poor cross into the box. Brazil clear and begin to break, but Melo is scythed down by Onyewu, who earns a yellow for his troubles.

35 mins: Silva is brought down by Kljestan in midfield. So far Kljestan's contributions have consisted of either fouling someone or giving it away. From the freekick, the ball is squared to Robinho who tries a hopeful 35-yard effort that goes well wide. Moments later, a long ball down finds Fabiano wide open down the right. His first-time shot on the half volley is weak though and Howard gathers easily.

38 mins: Nice sequence there for the U.S. First, Spector muscled Kaka off the ball deep in his own half and played it up to Donovan who beat a couple of Brazilians and dribbled up the right flank before releasing an overlapping Spector. Spector's final ball was poor though and Brazil clear.

39 mins: Maicon gets the ball in acres and acres of space on the right side. He sends in a dangerous cross that find Silva in the box but the header is well over. That was a good chance for Silva.

41 mins: Robinho dribbles on the sideline with Onyewu and Bornstein closing him down. Onyewu brings him down needlessly and it's a free kick in a dangerous area. The ball from Maicon finds Melo all alone at the far side of the box, but his shot is whiffed. Probably should have been another goal.

43 mins: The U.S. has lacked the ability to move the ball on the ground in this game and as usual has resorted to hopeful and forlorn long punts. It's also safe to say that the obvious solution is to bring in either Torres or Adu, two players who like to get on the ball, can actually control it, and even better, can pass it.

HALFTIME: Brazil 2-0 U.S. Well, it's safe to say that the U.S. was totally outclassed in the first half by a Brazilian team that doesn't even look like it's had to get out of first gear. The gulf in class is obvious, and at times the U.S. team has resembled a bunch of traffic cones watching Brazil pass the ball in cirlces around them. It looks pretty bleak, but if the U.S is to have a chance, it's going to have to pressure the Brazilians on the ball more, and either Adu or Torres needs to come into the game.

46 mins: Connor Casey is on for Beasley. Donovan presumably moves to left midfield. Not the most inspiring tactical move by Bradley. What about the non-existent central midfield? No question Beasley needed to be taken off though.

47 mins: A rare bad touch by Kaka, who miscontrols a pass just outside the U.S. box. I was just thinking that Kaka's one who would make an ideal subject for E! "True Hollywood Story." First he was young and good looking, then he was good looking and incredibly talented at soccer, then he was good looking, incredibly talented at soccer and incredibly rich.

48 mins: The U.S. has a brief chance, a ball flighted into the box and Casey chests down. However his control is poor and he's unable to get a shot off. Moments, later, the U.S. comes right back with Altidore playing a nice one-two with Casey before teeing up a left-footed shot that goes well over. Better from the U.S. Much better stuff from the U.S. now.

50 mins: The U.S. actually finding space and keeping possession now. Another nice build-up leads to a Michael Bradley long-range effort, but that's also well off the mark.

51 mins: Kljestan proves that he's not the wayward passing turnover machine that many fans think he is. Just now he connected with a delicate six-inch back pass to Onyewu with unerring accuracy.

53 mins: Long ball over the top from the U.S. almost leads to a chance for Altidore, who's beaten in a foot race by Miranda and loses his footing to boot. Brazil comes right back with a nifty move which frees Kaka outside the box to unleash a vicious shot that Howard does well to beat away. In the meantime Kljestan hacks down Ramires, who's being stretchered off. He's lucky to escape a booking there.

55 mins: Oh, I spoke too soon. It's a delayed card, but a red nonethless. Kljestan is sent off. Chivas USA fans will be used to that sight. That's pretty much game and set and match. When will U.S. players learn to control their discipline and stop with these ludicrous late challenges? Granted, it's been a harsh decision to send them off, but they shouldn't put themselves in that position in the first place.

60 mins: Feilhaber is on in the meantime for Altidore. The only thing that sub says to me is that Bob Bradley has gone into damage limitation mode.

61 mins: GOAL Brazil 3-0 U.S. Beautiful run down the right by Maicon who dribbles past Bornstein, plays a give-and-go with Kaka, and then slams the ball past Howard from an acute angle. It might have taken a slight deflection off Bornstein.

63 mins: Brazil knocking it back and forth like a training session now, before finally making a move down the right with Maicon centering a dangerous-looking cross that Donovan heads clear. To be honest, Donovan is the only U.S. player who hasn't looked out of place on the field today.

65 mins: Sending out a page for Clint Dempsey, looking for Dempsey, looking ... looking ...

66 mins: Maicon gallops past Bornstein again down the right and slides is a cross that's barely cleared.

68 mins: Brazil makes a double sub -- Kaka off, Julio Baptista on. Fabiano off, Nilmar on. Nilmar is a fantastic prospect at striker, by the way. This should be interesting. On the field, Donovan whips in a nice arcing cross that Bradley can't get on the end off. That was a decent half-chance for the U.S.

69 mins: Lucio is subbed off and replaced by Luisao.

71 mins: Brazil free kick on the left side, driven in, and Howard makes a two-fisted clearance with authority.

72 mins: Dempsey touches the ball!!!!! I repeat, Dempsey touches the ball. Actually, he makes a nice move and dribbles past two Brazilians in midfield before trying on one too many and losing it. He falls over looking for a foul, but even Pablo Pozo wouldn't give that. Although he's been invisible today, at least he showed some fight there, which is more than can be said for Casey, who's moving around with the pace of a constipated 75-year-old man. Aren't subs supposed to bring energy?

75 mins: The pace of the game has slowed to a crawl, as Brazil appears content to shut it down.

78 mins: A rare excursion forward in the last 10 minutes for Brazil, and the ball is played in to Baptista, but Howard reads well and comes out to gather.

81 mins: Spector gets the ball at midfield and pushes up the right flank. He looks around but doesn't see anyone who wants to overlap. In the end he passes it to Casey, who promptly fails to control it, and Brazil clears.

82 mins: Superb play by Spector, who carries the ball down the right again, nutmegs Santos, plays a one-two with Donovan and then pulls it back to Feilhaber. Feilhaber cracks a stunning shot from just outside the box that crashes onto the underside of the Brazilian cross bar and then bounces out. Desperately unlucky for Feilhaber and the U.S.

84 mins: End-to-end stuff now with gaping holes appearing on both sides of the field. Robinho runs onto a nice ball from Santos in the box, but looks too tired to do much with it. He cuts back and tries to cross, but Michael Bradley is there to block and clear.

86 mins: Dempsey earns a free kick down the left. He made a nice move around Luisao, and the Brazilian had no choice but to bring him. Free kick in a dangerous spot. Donovan curls it in, and Casey meets it with a thumping header that cannons off the Brazil cross bar. Again, that's very unlucky for the U.S.

89 mins: The South African fans look pretty exuberant. Their ability to continually honk the horns is unmatched. Impressive endurance for sure.

90 mins +2: Nilmar is brought down just outside the box by a sliding challenge from Feilhaber. It's in a dangerous spot, and the Brazilians are quibbling over who gets to take it. Baptista waves everyone off authoritatively and then tries to sidefoot a curler. It's a shockingly bad attempt and well over, a sight that's familiar for Arsenal fans worldwide.

FULLTIME: Brazil 3-0 U.S. It's all over. The U.S. was comprehensively outplayed, and the team's limitations were exposed. Of course, you also have to question Bob Bradley's odd decision to start Beasley and Kljestan.

U.S. fans might point to the two late strikes against the woodwork, but they'd be fooling themselves -- I think it's pretty obvious that Brazil went walkabout after its third goal. Man of the match for the U.S. probably would be Donovan if one had to choose someone. He showed exceptional work rate today across the entire field and was the only U.S. player able to show any real semblance of rudimentary skill, like controlling the ball.


Morning all. The official lineups for the game have been announced as follows:


GK: Tim Howard

D: Jonathan Spector, Oguchi Onyewu, Jay DeMerit, Jonathan Bornstein

M: Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Sacha Kljestan, DaMarcus Beasley

F: Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore


GK: Julio Cesar

D: Maicon, Lucio, Miranda, Andre Santos

M: Felipe Melo, Kaka, Ramires, Gilberto Silva

F: Luis Fabiano, Robinho

I just spoke to David Mosse, who, in his typically bleak outlook on Brazilian soccer these days, predicted a 2-1 victory for the U.S. Of course, that was before he saw the Brazilian lineup, which he described as "terrible." It's worth noting that Mosse always thinks Brazil is going to lose. If Dunga & Co. were playing the Fiji Islands today, he'd predict a loss. On the flip side, die-hard U.S. fan Andy Glockner (former college basketball editor and now scribe) thinks Brazil is going to win 4-1. Then again, it's worth noting that Glockner always thinks the U.S. is going to lose. With fans like these ...

Pregame banter (June 17)

With Monday's 3-1 loss to Pablo Pozo still stinging the memory, the U.S. gets the dubious pleasure of facing Brazil next (Thursday, 9:55 a.m. ET, ESPN2, ESPN360). I say dubious, because the U.S. needs at least a tie from this game, or it faces elimination from the Confederations Cup. Daunting though the task might appear to be, the reality is that under Dunga, the current edition of the Selecao is nothing like your father's Brazil (unless, of course, you happen to a 3-year-old kid and your father's first memory of Brazil was the exceedingly dour '94 squad).

Under the extremely pro-defense Dunga, Brazil is attempting to blend European discipline with its traditional flair and skill. To achieve this, Dunga has a penchant for selecting workmanlike journeymen-level players (by Brazilian standards) and eschewing the likes of Sao Paulo's Hernanes in favor of the pedestrian talents of players like Mineiro and Josue, while relying solely on the dynamic duo of Kaka and Robinho to break the game open. Those expecting Brazil to play its notable sweeping brand of attacking, dynamic football haven't been watching the way Brazil has played under Dunga the past couple of years. It's a sentiment shared by a majority of the Brazilian pundits, who have spent much of this time in "See no evil, hear no evil, speak in favor of Dunga's firing" mode.

Even so, a mediocre-by-its-own-glorious-history Brazil is still a formidable opponent for any top team in the world, let alone the U.S., which so far seems intent on replicating its performance the last time it was placed in a "Group of Death." Based on its 2006 World Cup formula, the U.S. is scheduled to open the tournament with a three-goal defeat or thereabouts (check), then pull off an epic draw in the second game against the group favorite (possible), before capitulating in the third game against an African opponent (in this case, Egypt).

As for the U.S. lineup, captain Carlos Bocanegra is a distinct possibility to return from injury, while Ricardo Clark is out, of course. With left back Jonathan "I almost scored an unbelievably incompetent own goal" Bornstein looking like Mauro Camoranesi's personal plaything on Monday, and DaMarcus "Out of form since 2005" Beasley failing to make the transition to left back, could we see the re-emergence of Heath "I'm not even in the first-team squad for a second division German club" Pearce? Of course, I'm in no way implying that the U.S. is in crisis mode at left back.

This is the lineup I think coach Bob Bradley will go with:

GK: Tim Howard

D: Jonathan Spector, Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra, Heath Pearce

M: Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Sacha Kljestan, Landon Donovan

AM: Benny Feilhaber

F: Jozy Altidore

I'll be back on Thursday with a live play-by-play of the game (dependent as usual on server speed).