Brazil cruises; U.S. squad falls to world champs

Posted: Sunday, June 22, 2003

LYON, France Even after last year's World Cup, there's still a big gap between the United States and the soccer powers.

World Cup champion Brazil dominated the Americans on Saturday night, winning 1-0 and ending the U.S. team's chance to advance in the Confederations Cup.

Adriano scored the only goal in the 22nd minute, stripping the ball from defender Gregg Berhalter and coming in alone on goalkeeper Tim Howard, who made the initial save but had no chance to stop Adriano's shot off the rebound.

''They're the best team in the world,'' American midfielder Earnie Stewart said. ''We're not near as close to where they are.''

The United States was outshot 6-1, with Brazilian goalkeeper Dida diving to his right in the 61st minute to push aside Landon Donovan's shot. Donovan also had a chance in first-half injury time, taking a pass from Stewart about 8 yards out. Donovan's shot went wide as he was tripped up by Brazilian defender Kleberson, but only after the shot had been taken.

Brazil so thoroughly controlled the match that it often seemed as if the field was titled toward Howard, who made several outstanding saves, including a leaping stop on Ronaldinho in the 76th. The U.S. team used just one player at forward in the first half, at first Donovan, then Clint Mathis, who was just wide with a curled free kick in the 43rd minute.

While the Americans advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals last year, their best showing since 1930, they weren't close to matching Brazil in speed or craftiness and dropped to 1-10 against the soccer's premier nation. They cannot advance, even if they beat African champion Cameroon on Monday.

''I was very pleased,'' U.S. coach Bruce Arena said. ''We played a number of young players in this game, and they did well. These are the type of experiences we need to get better. These games are invaluable for us, and if we can show improved performance in each and every game, then it's been a successful tournament for us. I don't worry about the wins right now. Our objective is to prepare a new team for (World Cup) qualifying next year.''

The United States, beaten 2-1 by Turkey on Thursday, has lost nine straight games in Europe and 14 of 15 over the past decade. The loss came exactly one year after Germany beat the Americans 1-0 in the World Cup quarterfinals in South Korea and on the fifth anniversary of the previous U.S. game in Stade de Gerland a 2-1 defeat to Iran that eliminated the United States from the 1998 World Cup.

For the second straight game, the crowd whistled during the playing of ''The Star-Spangled Banner.''

''I think it's disrespectful,'' Arena said. ''We respect the national anthem of every country, so I was disappointed with that.''

Adriano scored after he stole the ball outside the penalty area from Berhalter, who at first was going to pass to Cory Gibbs, then decided to send the ball back to his goalkeeper. While Berhalter was changing his mind, Adriano picked up the ball.

''It was clearly just an amateur mistake,'' Berhalter said. ''Against Argentina, Brazil, Germany, any of these teams, when you make a mistake like that, you get penalized.''

Adriano's intial left-footed shot bounced off the onrushing Howard, but Adriano collected the rebound and put another left-footed shot into the net from 15 yards out.

''They were giving their all in defense,'' Adriano said. ''It was hard.''

Arena praised the 24-year-old Howard, who plays for Major League Soccer's MetroStars but may move to Manchester United next month.

''I think Tim has proven he's an outstanding goalkeeper,'' the coach said. ''Tim came up with a big save, made a couple of big ones tonight and has played well. I've really been pleased with his performance in this tournament.''

Notes: Arena changed seven starters from Thursday, leaving in only Howard, Berhalter, Donovan and MF DaMarcus Beasley. Brazil made just one change, starting Alex instead of Gil. ... Berhalter was among just five players in the U.S. starting lineup who played in last year's loss to Germany. Brazil was missing Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Roberto Carlos, key players who helped win the nation's fifth World Cup title. ... The only American win against Brazil was 1-0 on Feb. 10, 1998, at Rose Bowl in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Preki Radosavljevic's goal in the 65th minute. ... Cameroon (2-0) won 1-0 against Turkey (1-1) in the other Group B game and plays the United States on Monday. Brazil (1-1) lost its opener 1-0 to the Indomitable Lions.

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