EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Roberto Firmino and Neymar scored first-half goals to lead Brazil to a 2-0 win over the United States men’s national team during an international friendly Friday night in front of an announced crowd of 32,489 at MetLife Stadium.
With a first-choice starting XI, Brazil raced out to a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute. An unmarked Firmino tapped in a Douglas Costa cross after the Juventus forward blew past Antonee Robinson on the right flank.
“The first goal, it was well executed,” U.S. interim coach Dave Sarachan said. “I think we were a little late getting out to Douglas Costa and I think Matt [Miazga] may have misread the run, but terrific execution. It was a situation where we get punished.”
After sustaining pressure for most of the opening half hour, the United States had a sniff at an equalizer in the 34th minute when Weston McKennie took a touch after the ball caromed to him off a corner. The Schalke midfielder took a touch with his right foot to set up a shot with his left inside the six-yard box, but it was blocked for a second corner.
Seleção doubled their lead just before the break with Neymar slipping a penalty kick inside the right post as Zack Steffen guessed the other way. On an attempt to split John Brooks and Wil Trapp, Fabinho was pulled down by Trapp, resulting in the penalty call by Mexican referee Fernando Guerrero.
McKennie had another quality chance during first-half stoppage time, latching onto a whipped–in Julian Green cross, but his header from eight yards out sailed over the crossbar.
“I think there could have been a situation where maybe the shoulders slump, the confidence was blown,” Sarachan said. “But I think that’s one of the things I’ve noticed in this group that i’ve had across many of these friendlies now, they don’t lack confidence.”
Neymar nearly added a second goal in the 51st minute when he was freed on goal on a great ball by Costa. Steffen kicked out to get a piece of the shot before Matt Miazga made an acrobatic goal-line clearance.
The USMNT continued to press for a goal and McKennie nearly had one in the 65th minute, stretching out to get on the end of a quality service by Kellyn Acosta, but his first-time attempt was just wide.
“Some of the players, myself included, we had a couple bad touches, a couple bad passes and the best way to react to that is not to hide and come back and just want the ball even more, get a couple passes down and under your belt and that way you build your confidence from there on out,” McKennie said. “I think that showed. We kept more possession in the second half I think and a little bit toward the end of the first half.”
Seven minutes later, Trapp had a go from a distance, but Alisson dived to his left to parry it away for a U.S. corner and the United States lost for an 18th time in 19 all-time meetings against Brazil.
“I think we have to learn to, especially in this game, to keep the ball,” Trapp said. “Keep the ball with purpose. I think we had some poor giveaways that when you’re defending and defending and defending and you finally give it away, it just compounds the effort. It’s good for this group to go through that.”
The match was the first of U.S. Soccer’s Fall Kickoff Series. The USMNT will next face Mexico in Nashville on Tuesday.