The United States Men's National Soccer Team take on perennial soccer powerhouse Brazil in an international friendly tonight at FedEx Field in Maryland. The game kicks off just after 8 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN2 in English, Telefutura in Spanish and online at ESPN3.com.
Tonight's matchup is the 2nd of 5 games the USMNT will play in 18 days as manager Jurgen Klinsmann attempts to create a tournament like atmosphere for the team. There is no notable tournament for the US to play in this summer, so scheduling the summer the way he has will give Klinsmann the best chance to prepare his side for the World Cup qualifying ahead.
"We’re treating this period of time like it would be a small tournament because this camp is a lot about how the players build chemistry and deal with a longer period of time being together," Klinsmann said . "It’s about how they are willing to go the extra mile in that time period to answer a lot of questions in that stretch. That’s why we’re calling it almost a mini-tournament."
The USMNT got their "tournament" off to a flying start with a 5-1 drubbing of Scotland, but will face a notably stiffer test tonight in the 5 time World Cup champions Brazil. However, Klinsmann says that it doesn't matter who his side plays in what type of setting, he expects the same level of effort.
"No matter who we play or what type of game we play, whether it’s Antigua or Brazil, we represent the United States of America," Klinsmann said. "It’s a requirement that every player comes in with 100 percent commitment and with an attitude that he puts everything into the game."
While this may just be a friendly, the importance of playing Brazil is not diminished in the eyes of the US players.
"It's Brazil. We've all played Brazil," said Michael Bradley. "We all know what playing games against them means. Their ability with the ball to take little plays and make the most of them is at the highest level. We know we are going to need a strong effort."
"There are three points on the line when we play a qualifier, but these games [against the likes of Brazil and Italy in February] are vitally important to us," goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "Dignity also plays a part, and no one wants to lose. We're a bunch of prideful guys."
The US has a long, but not very successful history against Brazil. The two nations have met 16 times over the last 82 years with Brazil winning 15. The lone US victory came in 1998 when the Nats knocked off A Seleção 1-0 in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The recent history has been a little better. Brazil needed extra time to defeat the US 2-1 in the Gold Cup in 2003 and there was the memorable Confederations Cup final in 2009 when Brazil came from 2-0 to beat the US 3-2.
It should be a fantastic test tonight and a great barometer of where the US is at under Klinsmann. Playing in front of a record crowd against the most storied team in the world, you can be sure the US won't be treating this game as simply a friendly. For Brazil, it's never acceptable to lose and they've probably more talent on their 3rd string than the US will start... so expect no quarter tonight and a pretty cracking game.