Brazil Mostly Did What It Wanted Against USMNT, Except Against Matt Miazga

As I watched the U.S. friendly against Brazil, a fly kept buzzing around my living room. It would fly in circles, occasionally getting near enough to me so I could try to swat it out of the sky, but it always fluttered away out of my reach. That’s pretty much how most of the USMNT vs Brazil highlights looked, with the Brazilians dancing around their hosts for a 2-0 win on Friday night in New Jersey.

Brazil racked up well over 60 percent of possession and at times dazzled with tricks and flicks. It didn’t look great for a lot of the young USMNT players in defense and midfield.

But one American stood out for his defensive efforts: 23-year-old Nantes center back Matt Miazga.

A New Jersey native back in his home state, Miazga was stellar throughout the match. He was stranded one-on-one against Neymar and Philippe Coutinho four times (twice each) and came out on top each time. 

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Miazga, who’s on loan from Chelsea, maybe could have stayed closer to Roberto Firmino on Brazil’s first goal, about the only blemish on an otherwise great performance. His best moment came when he cleared a shot from Neymar off the line in the 51st minute.

Unfortunately for the U.S., the rest of the team didn’t have quite as much success. Antonee Robinson was repeatedly torched by Douglas Costa on the left flank, the U.S. midfield struggled in one-on-one dribbles and the forwards didn’t get enough touches in the final third.

It was Robinson’s poor start that led to Brazil’s first goal, when Douglas Costa scooted past him and sent in a perfect cross for Liverpool’s Firmino to volley home. 

It took about 30 minutes for the USMNT to start making any real headway against Brazil’s defense and it started with the midfield trio of Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Wil Trapp combining to earn the first of what would be three straight corner kicks. McKennie had the best chance, his shot blocked away at point-blank range.

But soon after Brazil was back in the ascendancy, some how failing to score on this sequence. Note how Neymar slipped to the turf while failing to get past Miazga. 

The game took a turn late in the first half when Fabinho, Liverpool’s new midfielder, took a pretty blatant dive. While Wil Trapp grazed Fabinho, but he didn’t commit much, if any, contact before the Brazilian threw himself to the floor, selling it to the referee.

Neymar sent Zack Steffen the wrong way to make it 2-0 in the 43rd minute.

The best USMNT chance came in the 65th minute when Kellyn Acosta, who had been poor since coming on as a sub in the 55th minute, was fouled and then sent a great free kick into the box. McKennie got a leg to it, but couldn’t direct his shot on target. 

About 10 minutes later, McKennie got a similar chance from the other side of the pitch, but he wasn’t able to get enough purchase on his sliding shot. 

In the end, 2-0 was a fair result. Brazil only outshot the U.S. 12-11, but it was clear which side dominated.

Not that this was much of a surprise. Brazil fielded many of the same players who reached the quarterfinals at the World Cup. The U.S. played a bunch of young kids, most of whom have never been to a World Cup. Plus, the U.S. has beaten Brazil just once in 19 tries. 

And for those wondering, I never did get that damn fly. 

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