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This blog reflects on soccer qua football all over the world. The blog has a specific investment in attractive, attacking football and, as such, focuses on Brazil, the most emphatic historical exponent of the beautiful game.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Brazil v. USA friendly: A Preview

The U.S. soccer team will pose a tough test for Brazil at the New Meadowlands stadium in East Rutherford, NJ on August 10. With a squad featuring more than half of the players from the USA World Cup team in South Africa, the U.S. will be poised to play a defensively strong game that pressures the Brazilians in midfield. Central midfielder Jermaine Jones has been withdrawn from the squad in order to enable him to prepare for his upcoming European season with Schalke and replaced with striker Jozy Altidore. Jones was expected to start in the central midfield and may instead by replaced by Sacha Kljestan and Benny Feilhaber, the latter of whom played well in team USA's matches against Algeria and Slovenia in South Africa.

Familiar U.S. faces Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, Michael Bradley, and Carlos Bocanegra will lead the team, but they will miss Clint Dempsey and Oguchi Onyewu, both of whom are fighting for their places in their club teams in Europe. Bob Bradley and Sunil Gulati know full well that it's more important for Dempsey and Onyewu to gain more playing time in Europe than play an international friendly.

Brazil will encounter a defensively strong midfield, playing at home, with serious attacking threats represented by Altidore, Bradley and Donovan. Their own squad features a marked lack of international experience and it will be interesting to see if their midfield displays any coherence and attacking power. Brazil's midfield options include Hernanes, Jucilei, Lucas, Ramires, Sandro, Carlos Eduardo, Ederson, Paulo Henrique Ganso, all of whom have little experience playing with one another as a unit.

That said, it would be foolish to underestimate Brazil coach Mano's vision and abilities given his record at Gremio and Corinthians, and the intelligence of his academic investment in studying the game. Even though their midfield is difficult to imagine given the crop of fresh faces, the Selecao has some serious firepower up front in the form of Robinho, Andre, Neymar and Pato. It will be interesting to see if Mano opts to play three of these strikers together, as he has suggested on at least a couple of occasions.

Expect a stern battle in midfield with the U.S. growing in confidence as the match wears on, particularly if they can avoid giving away an early goal.

Prediction: Brazil 2-USA 0

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