I hate Brazil. I mean the team, not the country.
I don’t hate them for being over-rated; they’re pretty talented, actually. I don’t consider them a team of thugs and they don’t lack class, or even personality. Well, maybe the middle thing does apply: Brazil cheats in this subtly dirty way, employing little tugs and grabs that violate decency more than the physical integrity of their opponents. And that really sucks because the same team that pulls so much little crap also possesses talent at a 2:1 ratio to the U.S. Men’s National Team (hereafter, the Yanquis).
That brings me to the question of why? If one of your three or so playmakers can loft a pass from midfield to a segment on a forward’s toe after he makes a run behind the opposing defense, why do your defenders have to claw and paw Benny Feilhaber like he’s Zac Efron making a surprise mall appearance? Why the theatrical diving? Why, after all these years, do I still hate Rivaldo for the awful bullshit he pulled against Turkey in the 2002 World Cup?
Without going into this more than I need to – after all, this was a friendly and who really expected us to win – the Yanquis did all right on Sunday. We scored two and one of them even looked deliberate. We fought like hell up the middle – and, here, “we” means Michael Bradley who impressed me more in this outing than in any previous – and we created some respectable chances besides. We should have had a PK of our own, which offered, oh, a 50/50 chance of making this a wholly respectable 4-3 loss.
The nearly silly thing is the extent to which none of that matters. Brazil simply plays on a different plane. Half their team can play the killer ball and that slick, that one-, two-touch rhythm seems to come naturally to 3/4 of Brazil’s players, allowing the team to change the point of attack and exploit the thinnest of openings in the proverbial blink of an eye. And it’s so fun to see the game played with that kind of awareness and magic. The cheap fouls and theatrics? Not so much.
So, by way of closing, who did well for us? I thought Steve Cherundolo turned in a good one, Dempsey fought hard for scraps and finished well when he had to. As already noted, Bradley impressed me as much as anyone – and I look forward to the day when I won’t be reminded he’s the coaches son and the fact that’s not relevant, even though I know it will never come. All in all, I don’t think anyone flat-out sucked – and that’s a good thing.
But…y’know…it was a friendly; a win wouldn’t have felt much different.