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Three things we learned from the USMNT’s 2-0 loss to Brazil

Sep 7, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Brazil forward Neymar (10) plays the ball against United States defender DeAndre Yedlin (2) during the second half of an international friendly soccer match at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Here are three things we learned from the U.S. men’s national team’s 2-0 defeat to Brazil at MetLife Stadium Friday night.

The value in playing powerhouses

Columbus Crew SC midfielder Wil Trapp, who wore the captain’s armband for the USMNT again, called facing Brazil a “baptism by fire” for a USMNT team that averages 23 years of age. The same was true of facing France in Lyon in their World Cup sendoff match, as well as upcoming international friendlies against Colombia, Peru, England and Italy.

With these games not part of a tournament or World Cup qualifying, interim coach Dave Sarachan said the result of these games are secondary to the experience of playing against some of the top players in the world.

“My feeling is always you want to challenge yourself against the best competition,” Sarachan said. “I think with these games coming up, we’re going to have good challenges and I think it forces all of us to take a look at the player pool, forces us to analyze how we can be better. You learn from mistakes. You learn from these types of games that puts you on the back foot instead of the front foot. I’d rather be playing these games than playing a weak team that maybe we get away with some mistakes.”

A DeAndre Diss

You know you’ve reached a certain level of stardom as a soccer player when NBA players are outside the locker room waiting to meet you. Neymar is probably one of only a handful of players around the world who would garner such respect as to have Chicago Bulls teammates Jimmy Butler and Cristiano Felício standing in the bowels of MetLife Stadium well after the final whistle for a meet-and-greet.

There was respect on the field, too, but not too much respect. Matt Miazga had a few words for the global icon in the second half and DeAndre Yedlin had the line of the night when disagreeing with Mexican referee Fernando Guerrero about a foul Neymar drew. Three times he asked Guerrero “Did you watch the World Cup,” referring to Neymar’s now-famous embellishing tactics.

“It just came out. It’s not meant to be anything hurtful or anything like that,” Yedlin said “It’s just a good bit of banter. It’s nothing personal.”

Missing Pulisic

There was a general lack of creativity among the team, though it is difficult to be creative when you don’t have much of the ball. That said, it begged the question how different would the game have looked if the injured Christian Pulisic was able to participate.

“We’re always going to miss a guy like Christian in any game for sure,” Sarachan said. “If we had Christian tonight, I can’t say we’d have the ball for 40 percent more of the time, but clearly I think when you add players into the mix that have a certain comfort level and can play out of tight spots, like Christian, it would help.”

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