EAST RUTHERFORD NJ - AUGUST 10: Jozy Altidore #17 of the U.S. falls between Lucas #5 and David Luiz #4 of Brazil in the second half of a friendly match at the New Meadowlands on August 10 2010 in East Rutherford New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
The United States was impressive in dismantling Scotland, but Brazil will present them with the kind of challenge the Scots never could.
It's time for some groundbreaking soccer analysis: Brazil is better than Scotland.
So the United States dismantled Scotland (seriously, they dismantled them, destroyed them, took them behind the woodshed, etc.), big deal. The Scots are a subpar team that were without three of their top players. Brazil is, well, Brazil and when the Americans take on the Seleção on Wednesday at FedEx Field, they will be facing much better and charged with playing much better than they did on Saturday against Scotland.
Working in the Americans' favor is momentum. They have won their last five and played tremendously against Scotland, showing off the verve and style that Jurgen Klinsmann vowed to bring to the U.S. team. The three-man midfield of Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Maurice Edu was sensational, protecting the defense and transitioning to attack at warp speed. Terrence Boyd was busy up top, occupying Scotland defenders and giving the creative and deadly Landon Donovan and Jose Francisco Torres space to pick apart the Scots. It was a beautiful 90 minutes for the U.S.
Now the U.S. will try to play with the same style and effectiveness against the country that does style and effectiveness better than anyone else. Brazil is the poster child for stylish, attacking and creative players and while Dani Alves, Robinho, Ramires and Paul Henrique Ganso may not play on Wednesday, there is plenty of young talent in the team that can keep the Brazilian legacy alive.
Lucas Moura, the São Paulo midfielder, is in the team, as is his club teammate Casemiro and Tottenham midfielder Sandro. They will be in front of a defense that includes Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Marcelo, giving the U.S. more than enough of a challenge to break down.
The Brazilians' defensive talent is only matched by their offense talent. Leandro Damião has been pegged as the next great striker and he's eying a move abroad, while Alexandre Pato is also in the team. Then there is Hulk on the wing and a kid by the name of Neymar.
Lost in all the hoopla that Neymar is the next great superstar is the fact that he is already a superstar. He already has more than a goal per match for Santos this season and scored seven goals in 13 matches for Brazil last year. Neymar may only be 20 years old, but he is already a superstar and the rest of the Brazilian attackers aside, the U.S. will have their hands full just trying to contain Neymar.
A team with the attacking talent of Brazil is exactly what the U.S. needs to see right now. Their attack looked sensational against Scotland, but their defense was hardly tested and while American fans have spent years asking "who is our next great striker", the real problem for the U.S. has been keeping teams from scoring. They have gotten better in that respect under Klinsmann, but have yet to really be tested.
Brazil will undoubtedly test the U.S. defense. Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo's aging legs will be tested. Oguchi Onyewu's knee or Geoff Cameron's discipline will be tested. Defensive-lite Fabian Johnson or Edgar Castillo will be tested.
The U.S. took it to Scotland and it was an affirmation of what Klinsmann is trying to do with the team, but it was one match and affirmations die quickly. Scotland never tested the U.S. defense and barely even tested the midfield. It was hardly more than a glorified training session with the way that the Scots decided to play. What the U.S. can do against Brazil will be a much better test of the Americans' progress under Klinsmann, especially at the back. Neymar and Co. say "good luck".
For more on the U.S. vs. Brazil friendly, check out the match's StoryStream, which has previews, as well as live and postgame coverage.