USA vs. Brazil history: Preki, Keller, Confederations Cup, more
The U.S. men's national team takes on Brazil Tuesday at Gillette Stadium in the final friendly before October's Confederations Cup playoff vs. Mexico, and while the U.S. will be looking to continue building momentum against the Selecão, history suggests it's unlikely that will happen.
The U.S. has beaten Brazil once in 17 all-time meetings. Prior to 1992 they only played an official game once, and it came on the heels of the inaugural 1930 World Cup. After becoming the first player to score a hat trick in World Cup play (though that wasn't confirmed until decades later) Bert Patenaude scored twice in what was the final appearance of his abbreviated national team career, but the USA fell 4-3.
Since then, it's been essentially all yellow, blue and green in this one-sided matchup, save for one historic affair at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Here's a look back at five memorable instances the two sides have conjured in their history of playing against one another:
Preki's glorious finish
In the 1998 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Brazil played as an invited outsider after finishing second in the 1996 edition, and the U.S. made sure it wouldn't spoil the party by winning the whole thing this time, either.
Preki's magical left-footed finish in the 65th minute accounted for the only goal in the 1-0 semifinal stunner, which remains the only U.S. men's win over Brazil. That was as good as it got for the U.S. in that competition, though. The Americans fell to Mexico 1-0 in the final.
Keller's 10 saves
Of course, Preki's goal was only a game-winner because of the work Kasey Keller put in at goalkeeper that day. Keller was everywhere, making 10 saves to frustrate Brazil and post the clean sheet.
"That is the best performance by a goalkeeper I have ever seen," Brazil legend Romario famously said after the match.
2009 Confederations Cup final
The U.S. has never won a major international trophy, but it came oh-so-close in South Africa in the 2009 Confederations Cup. After stunning world No. 1 Spain in the semifinals (which followed an unlikely sequence of events that put the U.S. into the knockout stage to begin with), the U.S. took an even more stunning 2-0 lead on Brazil in the final. Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan scored in the first 27 minutes (Donovan's goal came on an exquisite counterattack), and it looked like the winner's podium might be covered in red, white and blue.
With the U.S. just 45 minutes away from a title, things unraveled. Luis Fabiano scored the first of his two goals just a minute into the second half, and Lucio scored the dagger of a winner off an 84th-minute corner kick, preventing the title clash from going to extra time and sending the U.S. home with a strong sense of what could've been.
Brazil ousts '94 World Cup hosts
The U.S. turned heads in 1994 as the World Cup host, shocking Colombia in the group stage and advancing to the knockout rounds. Its run ended there, but not without a valiant fight against the eventual world champion.
Bebeto's 72nd-minute goal accounted for all of the scoring in the round-of-16 encounter, lifting 10-man Brazil to the 1-0 win and ousting the home team. Brazil went on to beat Italy in penalties at the Rose Bowl to capture its fourth World Cup title.
Copa America semifinals
The USA surprised many in the 1995 Copa America by making a run to the semifinals, one that included beating Chile and Argentina en route to a quarterfinal vs. rival Mexico. After downing El Tri on penalties, that set up a clash with mighty Brazil, a year after their close World Cup encounter in L.A. Once again, Brazil prevailed 1-0, with Aldair's 13th-minute header off a free kick accounting for the winner.
For more on the USA's appearance that summer in Uruguay, listen to Grant Wahl's interview with Eric Wynalda and Alexi Lalas, who recalled the event (and the rematch vs. Brazil) in great, hilarious detail on a special Planet Fútbol Podcast: