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Brazil beats sloppy US 4-1 as Neymar stars
By RONALD BLUM
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) Brazil had its way with the U.S. soccer team, with the stars in the famous yellow jerseys dribbling past the Americans and generally pushing them around for the first half-hour.
Neymar had another dazzling night against the United States, scoring one goal and setting up two more to lead the five-time World Cup champions to a 4-1 victory in an exhibition Wednesday.
"We need to get an edge more nastier," said U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the former German star and coach. "Maybe we're a little bit still too naive. Maybe we don't want to hurt people. But that's what we've got to do. You've got to do that at the end of the day. So we've got to step on their toes more and get them more frustrated and make a case with the referee maybe as well, for us, not only the opponent."
Thiago Silva, Marcelo and Alexandre Pato also scored for Brazil, playing the opener of a three-game U.S. tour.
Herculez Gomez, in his first start since the 2010 World Cup, scored for the U.S., which is preparing for its opening qualifier for the 2014 World Cup on June 8.
"Four-one was maybe not a scoreline that was indicative of the overall game. I think for long stretches of that game we kind of imposed our will on them," Gomez said. "I think the main difference was they were clinical in front of goal and we weren't."
Neymar, the 20-year-old Santos sensation, put Brazil ahead in the 12th minute after a hand ball on Oguchi Onyewu on Leandro Damiao's shot, a call the Americans disputed with referee Jeffrey Calderon of Costa Rica. Neymar then took a corner kick that Thiago Silva headed in for his first international goal in the 26th.
Gomez cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 45th following a fine run by Michael Bradley and cross by Fabian Johnson. But before an enthusiastic crowd of 67,619 at FedEx Field, Marcelo restored the two-goal lead in the 52nd as Jermaine Jones, Onyewu and American captain Carlos Bocanegra left him unmarked in front of the net. Pato entered in the 64th and added a goal in the 87th that the U.S. claimed was offside.
"We're the only team in the world that gets homered at home. It's unbelievable sometimes," Bocanegra said.
Klinsmann, a German who move to California with his American-born wife after retiring as a player in 1998, said the U.S. team has to be more assertive with officials.
"You watch big teams in the world, what they do, and there's a call going against them - Barcelona is one of them - they come with 10 guys towards the referee," he said. "The referee is confused. He doesn't know even know who to show a yellow card."
Landon Donovan said "that's not really in our character as Americans."
"We try to play the game fair," Donovan said. "We don't really dive. We don't do those kind of things."
Brazil, which receives an automatic berth as the 2014 World Cup host, improved to 16-1 against the U.S. with a 35-11 goal difference.
Neymar, coveted by many European clubs, called it an efficient win.
"It's not every day that one can come and apply all sorts of dribbles, between the legs, over the head," he said through a translator. "It was a good test to play with a tough team like the U.S."
Brazil coach Mano Menezes used mostly a roster than can go to the Olympics - limited primarily to players under 23
"Since the beginning, I knew we could trust them, building with this team, blending them with more experienced players," he said, also using a translator. "We blended to try to well balance the different sectors, and their response was very good."
Following a 1-4-1 start under Klinsmann, the Americans had won five in a row, including an impressive 1-0 victory at Italy and a 5-1 win last weekend over a Scotland team that already appeared to be on summer vacation.
Against sixth-ranked Brazil, the No. 29 Americans played more offensively than in the 2-0 loss at the Meadowlands two years ago, when they were outshot 20-7. This time the U.S. had a 15-12 advantage in shots.
Klinsmann continued to tinker with his front line because Jozy Altidore didn't arrive until Monday, and Clint Dempsey is recovering from a groin strain. Dempsey entered in the 57th minute, marking the first time he played with Donovan since Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley as coach last July.
Gomez almost got another goal in the 64th, but his header off Johnson's cross was cleared off the goal line by Romula. Three minutes later, Neymar found a streaking Pato in front of the goal, but his shot bounced off goalkeeper Tim Howard's near post.
Brazil goalkeeper Rafael Cabral, making his Brazil national team debut, had a fine double save in the 76th, stopping Gomez with his left hand, then kicking away Terrence Boyd's effort. Cabral leaped to palm Bradley's header over the crossbar in the 85th, and Onyewu headed the ball off the crossbar on Donovan's free kick.
U.S. players were angry - but not that much, given it wasn't a game that counted.
"At the end of the day, we got caught a couple times, and that's what happens," Howard said. "The second half we mixed it up a little bit. We probably need to try to impose that will and try to turn it into a scrap earlier than we did."
Updated May 31, 2012