Well, that hurt. The good vibes from the U.S. romp over Scotland disipated in a blur of yellow jersey’s and a 4-1 Brazil victory. A dose of reality for sky high American fans? Perhaps, but let’s also have a dash of perspective with our serving of humble pie.
While Brazil dominated for long stretches of the first half, Herculez Gomez scored a fine goal just before the half, off very good work from Michael Bradley and Fabian Johnson. Goals three and four put an ugly look on the scoreboard, but I was encouraged to see the U.S. keep pushing, controlling the ball and attacking, rather than bunkering in and hoping to sneak something on a counter attack.
After all this was a friendly. The real games come with the June World Cup qualifyers. And there were some positives to take from this match. The main one being that Fabian Johnson is good, maybe really good. That Antigua and Barbuda game can’t come soon enough. Get that man cap tied.
The rest of the back four, however was another story. Steve Cherundolo had some ups and downs, and he can’t play forever. Michael Parkhurst replaced Cherundolo late and did fine. I still see Eric Lichaj as the more likely successor. I don’t see anyone in the U.S. set-up going to any great lengths to lure the reluctant Timmy Chandler back.
The central defense pairing was awful. Bocanegra was poor, but Gooch was awful. He may not be all the way back from the knee injury he suffered earlier this year, but he was slow and awkward, that late header off the crossbar aside.
Someone from among the group of Geoff Cameron, Tim Ream, George John, and Omar Gonzalez needs to step up and make the incumbents sweat. Clarence Goodson is in the mix as well, and maybe someone else will make a claim.
As expected the midfield didn’t have things all their own way like they did against Scotland. Brazil pressured the ball leading to turnovers. Maurice Edu has his strengths, but his touch can be awful at times. He is better suited for the deep lying role. Jones was great against Scotland, not bad against Brazil. Michael Bradley continues to impress. His precise pass sprang Johnson to set up Gomez for the goal, he covered acres and his composure was excellent.
Donovan had a good second half, after not being at the races in the opening stanza. On the opposite wing Torres was better on the ball than most, and Herculez Gomez worked his socks off as well as finding the net. He made a good case for himself. Dempsey didn’t have a ton of chances in a subs role, but we know what he can do.
Canada is next and hopefully Jozy Altidore will be ready to go. Then it is on to the real games and the long hard slog to Brazil 2014 begins. It won’t be about vibes or perspective; when the games count all that matters are results.