The United States were clearly second-best in the first 45 minutes on Wednesday night at FedEx Field. Not that it is anything to be ashamed of -- most teams are second-best to Brazil, just like the U.S. was -- but the Americans were a little bit more fortunate than most. Thanks to Tim Howard and Michael Bradley, they managed to get outplayed and still trail just 2-1, giving them a fighting chance in the second half.
Straight away, the Brazilians showed why they are, well, Brazil. The U.S. defense, especially Oguchi Onyewu, didn't quite know what to do with the Brazilian attackers, and that the midfield was giving the ball away with regularity didn't help.
Those giveaways finally hurt the U.S. 12 minutes in, when a giveaway sparked a Brazil attack that resulted in a shot being fired at Onyewu. The defender's arm was a little bit outstretched, and that little bit was enough for the referee, who pointed to the spot after the shot struck his arm. Neymar converted the penalty and Brazil was in front.
Brazil almost doubled their lead soon after when Leandro Damião's perfectly timed run put him in all alone on goal. It looked like a surefire goal for Brazil, but Howard got off his line and made a great save to keep the lead at 1-0.
The lead wouldn't be 1-0 for too much longer, though. Another giveaway turned into a Brazil corner kick, and when Jermaine Jones and Onyewu failed to communicate on it, Thiago Silva was left wide open at the near post. Silva wasn't about to miss that chance, nodding the ball past Howard to double the Brazil lead.
Upon occasion, the U.S. would show some sort of competency going forward, but there wasn't a lot of it. Most of it was through Bradley, who was great, but the bulk of the half saw Brazil on the ball or the U.S. giving the ball away under Brazilian pressure.
Finally, the U.S. found a way through just before the halftime whistle. Once again, it was Bradley who shined, slipping a gorgeous pass in for Fabian Johnson, another bright spot in the first half. Johnson got to the ball just before the end line and crossed with his first touch. The cross took a deflection before finding the head of Herculez Gomez right on the line. Gomez nodded the ball into the empty net and the U.S. was right back in the match.
Considering the way Brazil bossed the first half, one goal down isn't too bad.
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.