The United States Men's National Team were outclassed and completely dominated by Brazil today in the Confederations Cup, with the final score generous to the Americans at 3-0.
The Americans are not mathematically eliminated but for all intents and purposes will not be advancing in this tournament.
Unlike the previous game versus Italy, the U.S. showed little tenacity, courage, and passion in this game. They actually looked a lot like the team that went to Costa Rica earlier this month and barely showed up, losing 3-1 in that one.
If you thought that the fan reaction was muted following Italy's loss, it's about to get a lot more critical after this poor showing.
The problems with this U.S. team run very deep, but the issues apparent in this game were continuing to make the same mistakes, playing without passion and heart, a lack of teamwork and cohesion, and poor coaching decisions.
First, how do you continue to make the same mistakes over and over again?
Why doesn't this team learn you cannot make stupid challenges that can lead to red cards (Sacha Kljestan), and you can't let the other team score early in the game (seventh minute)?
The only difference between this game and the last against the Italians was the U.S. actually seemed like they wanted to play against Italy and attack some, but here they just said, "here we go again" and pretty much gave up after that first goal.
Second, the team came out with no fire; the Brazilians ran around the Americans, and Sam's Army offered little resistance or fight. Loose balls went routinely to the Brazilians, and they dispossessed the Americans with little effort.
It is clear this team is repeating the same mistakes it has been making over and over again and is not learning to improve.
Barely anyone on Team USA tried to challenge for 50/50 balls. The team looked complacent in allowing Brazil possession and attacking opportunities. The U.S. was listless throughout the game, save for a few attacking opportunities it promptly wasted in the second half.
Suffice it to say Team USA did not look like it wanted to be out there today.
The players looked like they did not care and were frustrated and exasperated out on the pitch. This team was supposed to at least compete, "be hard to play against," and play for one another.
It's not doing any of that right now.
Third, the "team" looked more like a collection of individuals wearing the same kits. How many times did Brazil just double or triple-team the American player with the ball and dispossess him? Where were the runs off the ball and combination play?
I think I counted two plays where we actually played as a team. One, on the build-up where Jozy Altidore played a give and go with Conor Casey, and two, when Jonathan Spector and Landon Donovan ran off one another and Spector's pass went to Benny Feilhaber, who hit the woodwork with the shot.
Finally, you have to question Bob Bradley and his decisions before and during the game, starting with his lineup decisions. DaMarcus Beasley had no business starting this game at left wing; he is extremely rusty and is a shadow of his former self. He gave up the free kick that led to the first goal and made a horrible touch off a USA corner kick that led to the second goal, a fast counterattack by Brazil.
Inserting Sacha Kljestan into the starting lineup was another fateful decision by Bradley. Kljestan is in bad form for his MLS team; how could he help the U.S. team against Brazil? He gives up the ball too easily and contributes little to the attack. His foolish challenge was the result of frustration and a lack of discipline, and came right after he lost the ball.
As for substitutions, I have no idea why Bradley brought Casey in for Beasley. If anything, he should have brought Feilhaber, Freddy Adu, or Jose Torres in at that point. None of the aforementioned players other than Feilhaber saw the field today, and you have to question Bradley's tactical acumen. The USA needed to attack the holes in Brazil's defense and maintain possession, and it rarely did any of that save for a few moments.
You wonder if Bradley is too conservative, playing those he knows and likes but who are not necessarily on form to play well at this level. I think based on this game, he has to not only give Adu, Charlie Davies, Torres, and similar players more playing time, but he's going to have to find players in the U.S. system who are both in form and are unafraid of taking it to teams like Brazil.
Now is not the time to play favorites, but to put the best 11 on the field who play best together.
Despite statements by USSF President Sunil Gulati that Bradley's job is safe, it is clear as day that this is not a good "team" no matter how you view it. The days of playing it safe and close to the vest are over. U.S. Soccer needs to take a hard look at itself and this team, because changes need to be made as soon as possible to give this team any chance of advancing out of the group stage next year in South Africa.