Neymar, Firmino fire Brazil past punchless USA in friendly
GB news 24 desk//
Neymar and Roberto Firmino scored first-half goals, and Brazil overwhelmed the United States 2-0 on Friday night in a friendly before a sparse crowd at MetLife Stadium.
Firmino scored in the 11th minute after a cross from Douglas Costa, who burst down the flank and past 21-year-old left back Antonee Robinson. Neymar converted a penalty in the 44th-minute for his 58th goal in 91 international appearances, third in Brazilian history behind Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62).
The US have two wins, two losses and three draws under interim coach Dave Sarachan, who took over last October after the Americans failed to qualify for the World Cup. New general manager Earnie Stewart said this week a permanent coach will be announced later this year.
Just 32,469 attended the match at MetLife Stadium, a possible site of the 2026 World Cup final, and Brazilian supporters outnumbered Americans. When Brazil beat the US 2-0 at Metlife Stadium in August 2010 shortly after the venue opened, the game drew 77,223.
Brazil, in their first match since a quarter-final loss to Belgium at the World Cup, improved to 18-1 against the US and have won 11 straight since a 1-0 loss in the 1998 Concacaf Gold Cup.
Playing in New Jersey for the first time since their 2-0 loss to Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier at Red Bull Arena last September, the US did not force a save from goalkeeper Alisson until the 71st minute. All the US starters were 25 and under and the average of 23 years, 117 days was under 24 for the fifth straight match.
The section of American Outlaws behind one goal held up photos of Clint Dempsey before the match in honor of the US star, who announced his retirement last month.
Brazil went ahead when Firmino split defenders Matt Miazga and John Brooks and directed the ball past goalkeeper Zack Steffen for his eighth goal in 26 international appearances.
The US didn’t threaten until a sequence of three corners just past the half-hour mark.
Neymar converted a penalty after a debatable call by Mexican referee Fernando Guerrero, the fourth official for the US loss at Trinidad and Tobago last October that eliminated the Americans in World Cup.
Fabinho played a one-two with Firmino and cut into the penalty area. Wil Trapp appeared to give him the slightest of pushes and Fabinho tumbled past Brooks. Neymar stutter-stepped in his run-up, Steffen dove to his right and the forward softly kicked the ball in the other way. Arthur, Lucas Paqueta and Richarlison made their Brazil debuts in the second half, and Dede made his first appearance in five years.
The best US chance was Weston McKennie’s left-footed shot off a Kellyn Acosta pass in the 66th, which went wide.
Sarachan will run the team for Tuesday’s friendly against Mexico in Nashville, Tennessee, and possibly for friendlies on 12 October against Colombia at Tampa, Florida, and versus Peru four days later at East Hartford, Connecticut. The US also play England and Italy in November.