U.S.A. Hosts Brazil and
Over 60 Thousand Fans
The national soccer teams of Brazil and the U.S. meet again tonight and for the last time this year. While American coach Bob Bradley and several of his players may be leaving the team for good, Brazil debuts a new coach, Mano Menezes, and a lineup of very few well known faces.
Of the two, team USA had the most enthusiastic World Cup performances and for a little less than a month galvanized support from coast to coast even from those who rarely follow the sport. Five time world champions Brazil, though, had one of its worst campaigns in recent memory.
These two already have a stellar story of playing rousing finals, the most recent of them being the Confederations Cup in South Africa, two years before the World Cup, with Brazil coming from a 0-2 deficit to win the game 3 to 2.
The country that will host the next World Cup, in 2014, is under pressure to form a new team in line with its traditional “beautiful game” style of playing, the jogo bonito. Brazilians are already showing impatience that it’s been eight years since it lifted the FIFA Trophy in Tokyo, never mind that it was for a record fifth time.
Age and the need for renovation are forcing the Americans to dismantle its arguably best team ever. No one knows yet who’ll replace Bradley, but by coincidence, a former U.S. coach, Bruce Arena, will be inducted along others into the Hall of Fame before tonight’s game.
Brazilian soccer great Pelé is also expected to show up and will most likely be fielding questions about plans, announced by a group of investors, to relaunch the New York Cosmos, with which he played in the 1970s and help build up a brief awakening of national interest into the sport.
Above all, with over 60,000 tickets sold out until Sunday night, a big and colorful party will surely take over the bleaches of the newly minted Meadowlands Stadium. As only now the crowds have been recovering from the fever and intensity of the South African games, don’t expect them to be quiet. But don’t expected to be annoyed by the Vuvuzelas either, because they won’t be allowed in tonight.
2 X 0
Brazil Beats U.S.A.
But Fans Win It All
A young Brazilian team, the majority of which making their international debut, beat Team USA 2X0 (goals by 19-year old Neymar, near left, and 20-year old Pato) in a friendly game before its new coach, Mano Menezes, and a New Jersey crowd of over 77,000. It was an entertaining match with a bitter sweet taste, for it may be the last with Bob Bradley as the U.S. coach.
Helped by a few special conditions, the 20-something and younger Brazilian players showed enthusiasm and a flair that hasn’t been seen for quite a while from the five-time world champions. They were led by the only certified Brazilian star on the field, Robinho, who seemed at easy in his role as the captain.
Team USA hardly emulated what it had shown a month ago in South Africa, except for its customary slow start. Donovan, arguably its greatest player ever, was not in a particularly inspired night either. The team didn’t offer much of a reaction when Brazil scored twice in the first half, and came to life only briefly with Altidore in the second.
No one was seriously expecting a historical performance from neither team, to be fair. But what they came to see, they got: goals, a few superior plays, fair play and, above all, the party at the bleaches of the New Meadowlands Stadium. There shouldn’t be any doubt that if such conditions are present, Americans will show up in mass to see a soccer game.