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  • To put it bluntly, the U.S. men's national team hasn't enjoyed much success against Brazil, but the one-sided series has also featured a number of close calls on big stages.
By Avi Creditor
September 07, 2018

To put it bluntly, the U.S. men's national team hasn't enjoyed much success against Brazil.

After their 19th all-time matchup Friday night in a friendly in New Jersey, the USA is 1-18-0 against the five-time World Cup champions. The Americans have lost 11 in a row in the all-time series, which spans friendlies and various cup competitions dating back to 1930. A young, hardly tested U.S. missing the likes of Christian Pulisic and Josh Sargent featured in the latest chapter of this one-sided story, while Brazil, fresh off a disappointing quarterfinal exit at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, began fine-tuning and moving forward ahead of the 2019 Copa America that it will host.

Here are five of the landmark moments in the two nations' soccer history (on the men's side), which include a number of close calls on big stages:

Preki, Keller deliver a stunner

Let's start with the one positive. The 1998 Gold Cup featured the one U.S. victory, with Brazil a guest nation for the competition. The Brazilians surprisingly drew Jamaica and Guatemala in group play, settling for second place and a semifinal showdown vs. the group-winning Americans. 

Kasey Keller stood on his head in goal, with arguably the greatest U.S. goalkeeping performance ever (though Tim Howard vs. Belgium in the 2014 World Cup certainly has a case), and Preki delivered one of the all-time famous U.S. goals, cutting to his left foot and scoring on a rocket from outside the box for the only goal in a landmark 1-0 win. 

The celebration didn't last long, though. The U.S. fell in the final to Mexico a few days later.

Confederations Cup heartbreak

The U.S. was on course to win its first FIFA final in 2009, until a second-half collapse forced the Americans to settle for a disappointing second place. That the U.S. even reached the final at all was a miracle. Brazil had thrashed the U.S. in the group stage 3-0, and it required a lopsided win over Egypt plus Brazilian help vs. Italy to send the Americans through to the semifinals. There, they stunned world No. 1 Spain, setting up a rematch vs. Brazil in the final.

Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan scored in a shocking first half, but Luis Fabiano scored a minute into the second half to turn momentum before equalizing later on. Lucio's header off a corner kick turned the tide for good, and Brazil lifted the trophy.

Brazil knocks the 1994 World Cup hosts out

The U.S. hosted the 1994 World Cup and gave Brazil all it could handle before the Seleção lifted the trophy. Their July 4, round-of-16 showdown at Stanford Stadium was a nailbiter, with Bebeto's 72nd-minute goal providing the breakthough and making for the difference that knocked the hosts out. Narrow wins over the Netherlands, Sweden and Italy secured the fourth of Brazil's World Cup titles.

1995 Copa America semis

A U.S. team that was mired in a pay dispute enjoyed an unexpected run to the 1995 Copa America semifinals, one that included a rout of Argentina in the group stage and a penalty shootout win over rival Mexico in the quarterfinals. 

In the semis, a solitary goal from Aldair–on a header off a free kick–sent the U.S. to the third-place game, where it ultimately fell to Colombia.

The U.S. was nearly forced to call in the Olympic team, which was on standby, as replacements because of a player strike over wage discrepancies between the most- and least-experienced players on the squad. Instead, everything was sorted, and the U.S. shockingly bested Chile and Argentina to win its group before succumbing, again, to Brazil.

For more about the USA's run that summer, listen to Grant Wahl's conversation with Eric Wynalda and Alexi Lalas, who recall the experience in detail.

Neymar's first cap, goal

Neymar returned Friday to the Meadowlands, where he scored the first of his many international goals on his first senior cap. Then, just an 18-year-old who had yet to experience the fame and fortune of playing for Barcelona and PSG, he headed home Andre Santos's cross to open the scoring in a routine 2-0 win. 

Neymar surely had fond memories when, eight years later, he took the field at MetLife Stadium again, this time as the established leader of Brazil instead of a prospect with a bright future ahead of him. His penalty kick capped the 2-0 win Friday, giving him 58 international goals in 91 caps. He's only 26.

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