The United States National Team may be licking their wounds a bit today after falling to Brazil 4-1 last night in Landover in front of over 67,000 people but there were some positives to take from the game. I'm just not going to discuss them today. Instead I'm going to focus on the main reasons why Brazil was able to beat the U.S. by such a gaudy scoreline. Let's look at the three reasons why the U.S. lost the other night.
Poor Defending - Onyewu had an absolute stinker, Bocanegra looked slow and uncomfortable on the ball, Cherundolo was run ragged by byNeymar, the midfield didn't do enough to disrupt the flow of the game and Howard didn't come up with any of his signature ridiculous saves (although one was pretty good). Only Fabian Johnson acquitted himself well in a match that officially cemented him as the left back for the foreseeable future. Against the top teams in the world this group is going to have to play at a high level for the U.S. to win and that just didn't happen on Wednesday night.
Finishing - Brazil dominated this match but they really only had 6 clear-cut scoring opportunities and they buried 4 of them in the back of the net. The U.S. had, by my count, 8 such opportunities and only managed 1 goal. Some of those misses were great saves by the Brazilian keeper while others such as Dempsey's failed sitter about a yard off the goal should have been buried. Brazil was clinical in front of the goal and that was why the final score was not completely indicative of the game itself. Once again, when going up against a ram like Brazil you have to take advantage of the scoring opportunities you get if you want yo win. The U.S. did not.
Still Tinkering - Brazil may have had a different squad on the pitch than you'll see during next summers Confederations Cup but the system and roles are clearly defined. Klinsmann has yet to settle on a formation and is still giving players a chance to solidify their spot on the roster. That means that there is a constant shuffling of players, positions and roles at this point and time. That should slow down a little as Klinsmann gets more comfortable with the team and with World Cup qualifying right around the corner but the lack of cohesion, especially in defense, was apparent. Think about who on the team is a clear starter at a single position. Howard in goal, Johnson, Bocanegra and Cherundolo in the back (although two of them looked out-classed against Brazil), Bradley at center mid and Altidore up top. Donovan and Dempsey are starters but their positions aren't completely settled and players like Jones, Edu and Onyewu seem likely to start but they aren't locked in yet. This shuffling is the reason why help defense was an issue and why the offense took such a long time to click.
Despite all these issues there were panty of positives to take from the match as well. I'll be back this weekend with those thoughts and more.