Brazil exposes sloppy U.S. defense
LANDOVER, Md. -- Three thoughts after Brazil's 4-1 victory against the U.S. in Wednesday's friendly at FedEx Field:
That may be an obvious point, but even without its full A squad Brazil was menacing much of the night, with Neymar and Marcelo providing much of the threat down the left side. The U.S. defense allowed uncontested runs into the box on two of Brazil's three goals, mistakes that you can't afford to make against the five-time world champions, and Oguchi Onyewu had a truly rough night from his early handball penalty to losing track of Brazilian attackers on a few occasions. That said, the scoreline was harsh for a U.S. team that had its share of good moments reflecting the gains made under coach Jurgen Klinsmann. The Yanks had several good build-ups in the attack -- Hérculez Gómez worked his tail off -- and could easily have made it 3-2 late after getting several chances in the box, but Alexandre Pato's late goal put those hopes to rest.
The 24-year-old German-American was one of the U.S.'s best players, marauding forward from the left back position and creating havoc at times with the Brazilian defense. It was Johnson's bold run and centering pass (after a terrific ball from Michael Bradley) that found Gómez for the U.S.'s first-half goal, a play that I have a hard time imagining another U.S. left back even being in a position to make. Even better, Johnson is in no danger of pulling a Timmy Chandler and flying the coop, since Johnson has already filed a one-time official FIFA switch to play for the United States. (The switch was necessary after Johnson had played in an official youth competition for Germany.) Klinsmann has said Johnson was the best left back in the Bundesliga for Hoffenheim in the latter part of the season, and he may not have been exaggerating by much.
In an issue that's important to a lot of fans, the new U.S. red-and-white-striped jerseys got a new number color on Wednesday, switching from hard-to-see light gray to navy blue. It may not seem like a big deal to some folks, but one informed source told me the change could end up costing U.S. Soccer nearly six figures after the federation had made a major purchase of numbers for all U.S. youth and senior teams, men's and women's, in the faulty color. (The snafu wasn't the fault of supplier Nike, which let U.S. Soccer take over the numbering for jerseys a couple years ago.) U.S. Soccer released a statement on Wednesday: "In order to improve the visibility for the television broadcast, the numbers for the game-day jerseys have been enhanced. The design and color remain the same."