American Stadiums and Brazilian Footwork

Last night I attended the USA-Brazil international friendly at the New Meadowlands. Despite the absurdity that is New York Penn Station at rush hour and with tens of thousands of soccer fans adding to the mayhem, I got there on time and got to my seat just as the game kicked off.

There’s a certain glamor to watching a game in person that never gets old, even with the long waits to get there and then back home afterwards (how do people do it when the game ends at midnight?) and last night was no exception. There were fewer USA! chants than normal because of the massive Brazilian contingent that appears out of nowhere whenever the Seleção shows up. Seriously, I don’t see any Brazilians around here until some Brazilian superstar shows up, like Ronaldinho with Barça a couple of years ago, but during that day they’re everywhere in their yellow and hot hotness (possibly NSFW).

The match itself could have gone either way early, with Landon Donovan getting the first real chance (and blowing it thanks to a nice little shove that was in no way the penalty I screamed for from the other side of the field), but by the 20th minute it was all Brazil. Neymar somehow contrived to be the shortest man on the field and the only person to score a header (thank you for that positional brilliance, Bornstein) and Pato finished off the half with a slick run through the gaping maw of the American defense. The second half was just Brazil banging it off the woodwork repeatedly (I think they hit 3 posts) and running circles around a completely incompetent American midfield. Basically: our stadiums are nicer. Their players are miles ahead of us in a 1km race. Americans will pay top dollar to watch these matches (I paid $68 for my ticket, a friend $150) and we packed the house, but really, unless they’re in the run-up to a competition, friendlies are meaningless and useless other than as cash cows.

I was, until the middle of the second half, unaware that there was a 6-sub limit, so I thought everyone would get 45 minutes and then we’d see scrub action. That, of course, leads me directly to my first gripe: Dani Alves, recently arrived from Beijing (a 14-hour flight), played all 90 minutes despite this being a friendly designed to blood the young’uns of the Brazilian system rather than to actually win. Players like David Luiz,  Neymar, and Ganso were making their international debuts, so what was the point of putting Dani Alves, a man who has a competitive match in 4 days (from game time) on the other side of the Atlantic after he’s traveled from the other side of the world to make it? You’d have to ask Menezes, of course, but the obvious tactical reason is to provide veteran stability. Which is why Robinho was subbed, of course, instead of the 27-year old whose chances of making the next World Cup squad are fairly slim (he’ll be 31 by the time Brazil14 rolls around).

Let’s be clear, though, it’s not a conspiracy. None of it is a conspiracy against Barça. That’s just silly talk. What it is is bad decisions by national coaches thinking of their short-term careers or FAs looking to line their pockets rather than looking out for the welfare of their players. Del Bosque has claimed Pep should have called his Spanish internationals back earlier so they had time to train and be prepared for the Super Cup, knowing that they would be called up for a meaningless friendly*, but that is just him covering his ass for a stupid, stupid move by RFEF that could endanger entire seasons for a myriad of Spanish superstars (from quite a few teams, I should point out).

So, consider this your place to comment on today’s Furia Roja Triumphal March as well as discuss how bad the USA national team really is (we’re awful, awful, awful and I hope it was Bradley’s last match in charge). Or how good Brazil is going to be in 2014 if they keep up the attacking style they put out yesterday.

*Tri fans: I realize it’s the bicentenarrio match. And I don’t care. It’s a friendly. Dani Alves shouldn’t have come and played here in the US, in front of me, any more than Xavi should go play in front of you, at altitude, in the middle of the day (3pm kickoff!?).

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. FYI New Jersey has the highest population of Brazilians in the US, approx. 20 million live there out of 300 million.

    1. See, I did not know that.

      I assume, though, that you mean there are 20 million Brazilians in the United States as a whole and that a large percentage of them live in New Jersey. Is there a particular reason for New Jersey being the place?

    2. Isaiah, I was there at the match right next to the American Outlaws, section 101. Where were you seated? i couldve sworn I saw a guy who looked like you in a nevada smiths scarve.

  2. You could be in luck, there’s talk of Bradley going to coach Aston Villa but I doubt it.

    1. Yay Randy Lerner, you’re making Villa the footballing greatest force in the world!

      Welcome, Aston Villa, to being a Browns fan. O’Neil will go on to coach the Patriots to 9 straight Super Bowls or whatever.

  3. Alves was completely intimidating Donovan. Pushing him, shoving him, giving him cold stares, why wasn’t Donovan standing up to him?

    Is anyone else as impressed as I was with Robinho essentially playing the Iniesta role? He was everywhere and anywhere. Always offering himself up for passes and keeping the chains moving. He let Neimar and pato shine and offered lots of support. I loved this Robunho performance.

    Neymar played hard. But he reminds me of another guy barcelona already have…Pedro!

    1. No. No one is impressed by Robinho, not even his own mother. Seriously, he’s a child.

      Once someone figures out how to pry Neymar from Brazil, it’s going to be great for whatever team does that. He’s damn good.

  4. Messi starting against Ireland, why why why ? Stupid time for international games, 6 weeks after the world cup, stupid I tells ya.

  5. repost:

    you know, i don’t mind ibra going back to his national team but does puyol really have to play w/la seleccion knowing how thin barca is in the back this season? wouldn’t he have been available for the game vs sevilla had he still been retired?

    brazil does have some very hot hotness.

  6. lets hope nobody injured in this friendlies.can someone help?what will be the possible line up for sevilla against us?

  7. Argentina was quite good in first half and if any one still doubts passing ability of Masch, they should watch second half, assuming he does play.

    Messi was ok and Argentina look so different than against Germany. Stupid decision to play di maria and maxi as centre mids was not the smartest which maradona made. Argentina do still look short of a Xavi so to speak. gago and banega are ok without being great. Well, for argies to really challange for top honours in coming years, they will need a xavi or a riquelme so to speak.

    1. Haha. Was just coming here to post that anybody who doubts Mascheranos passing ability or tackling ability should watch the second half. You beat me to it!! 🙂

      His passing both long and short has been very good, especially his long balls to both Messi and Di MAria. His tackling has been very good, making some very well timed and executed challenges. I think he might be trying extra hard just in case Pep is watching..

    2. Based on what i have read (and the phone calls which pep makes to consult me about such things:)), pep does know all about masch and really likes him. The question is going to be does Pep see value in Masch. He is a obvious starter and with Busi playing so well, does it make sense to disrupt a smooth machine. It would be way better to get someone like Senna who will be happy to play second fiddle.

      So for my money, Pep really likes Masch and will definitely not go for him. But as we know, Pep is quite a fickle chap when it comes to transfers:).

    3. 25m is WAY too much for Mascherano. I think Senna would be a better choice alright and see can we get someone from the academy in the next year or 2.

    4. Hmmm. I am not so sure about that. Pep was very clear that he would have loved Yaya to stay and that it was a great loss. As good as Sergio is he is still young and had a lot to learn and does not need to start every single game. Yaya was not willing to accept a role where he had to share time with Sergio, however Mascherano’s agent has already stated that Mascherano understands this. To find a player of Mascherano’s quality who is willing to accept not being an automatic starter is very rare. There are definitely more than enough games for two top quality players to rotate one position. If Pep felt he could work Cesc into the squad I dont see why he couldnt work MAsch into it.

    5. His agent says that now but wait a year and if Mascherano is on the bench too much that same agent will be in his ear agitating for a move. I just couldn’t see him happily sitting on the bench as much as YaYa was last year. Anyway all he ever does is pass backwards and sideways it’s like he doesn’t see forward passes and for 25m you need a bit more from a played I would suggest.

  8. I do hope messi is taken off at 60 min mark though. I want him in starting 11 for sevilla.

  9. About the whole ‘deadline’ thing with oezil, i was reading that the rules changed, and even if he plays on Wednesday, any club that signs him can still use him in the cl as long as hes signed before the transfer deadline.


  10. Messi off after 56 minutes (safely). Didn’t put himself about too much but some nice touches. Mascherano playing well.

  11. This is to be expected, but Spain look horrible. And I’m glad we didn’t sign Bruno from Villareal. He looks wack.

  12. Well I might be harsh on him but while fabregas can play some nice passes and has great vision he doesnt seem to be able to dictate the pace of a game.And in this spain squad , even with the bench one you would expect something like that.

  13. well second half was not quite as commanding for argentina. they were average while ireland did come back quite well. messi was quite good.

    overall this argentina is good with excellent attackers but with quite average mid field and not that great backline. not a good reading for someone like me who is a argentina supporter. they look ok but unlikely to get any trophies.

    i think that for argentina to succeed, they have to go 4-4-1-1 with messi in free role. have a defensive oriented team and hope that messi produces some magic. they simply do not have players to win any other way.

  14. if i remember well in 23 xavi was not a starter in spain or barca!yes you are harsh on him my friend!

    1. well thats the problem : he isnt either in any of those clubs.
      And the problem is that fabreagas is already playing the role of a starting playmaker for quite some time now ; he should have already been accustomed to that.

  15. for his age cesc is a fantastic player.without him a top english club like arsenal will be a mediocre one.i believe in him so much and i am sure that he will be the best midfielder opinion.

    1. I agree . But he might be a different player than most people think he is. Xavi is a dictator , above all. Fabregas is not , yet.

  16. Time for my now almost daily plug for Jan Vertonghen:

    He is 23, can play DM and CB, comes from Ajax and would hypothetically not have a ton of trouble adjusting, and would be fairly cheap compared to other options.

    He is also highly rated by Crujff, who doesn’t have a bad sense for noticing talent.

  17. ok tell me another 23years old player playing in a big europe club as a playmaker for so many years.
    who was zidane at 23?pirlo?rivaldo?

  18. before xavi was deco a different player than xavi!cesc will be a different player than xavi!but be sure that he will be great.i am not a fan of him cause he left the club!but i love him so much that i want him back home!i watched the video when was in barcelona when kids and a old woman said to him:come to barca!it was so emotional!

  19. diego?he was good at verder but in italy nothing special i believe cause i don.t watch juventus games!but i have another question!why our academy don.t bring to the team good strikers?except bojan i don.t remember a number 9 from la masia.what do you think guys?

  20. United have added Mesut Ozil to the club’s list of players on the official Web site. Looks like he’s a Red Devil. Good. I figured the rumors were craziness, given the Rosell desire to sign Fabregas.

    1. Probably a hacker. It’s not the first time. Man U fans know they need an attacking midfielder like Ozil, so they, the hackers, added him. Utd just announced the signing of Bebe for 7.5 mil.

    2. From a knowledgeable United fan:

      “It’s been explained that the club’s webmasters do it whenever they’ve been linked to any player. Hence, look hard enough and you’ll find team page info for guys like Balotelli, Sneijder, etc.”

  21. Anyone knows anything about Bebe ? On his wikipedia page they didn’t list any goals .. and the most interesting thing was this “Despite not representing Portugal at full international level, Bébé has represented Portugal at the Homeless World Cup.”

    1. Nope. Total unknown.

      At first, when I read the “Homeless World Cup” in his wikipedia page, I thought some angry fans did some tasteless altering–so I was more than a little peeved when I read that–, but it turns out that the poor guy was homeless and grew up on the streets and orphanage for much of his life.

      Some info courtesy of the Guardian: *

  22. from what we saw in europe no club except city spending crazy money.that s good for us!in la liga we are the favorites as 2 times champions and in C.L in 4 favorites with inter,bayern, i hope for a good season without serious injuries!

    1. Valdes only played 45 Minutes so he could participate ..
      I hope Milito and Muniesa can handle it .. This reminds me of the Atletico match at the Vicente Calderon this year ..

  23. Sport and EMD with the Ibra rumors again. I just can’t anymore. I might stop looking at these papers for a bit.. no sign of any players, so all they talk about is Ibra and how we want him out. This is tiring.

  24. yes it is tiring and boring!i guess ozil case is close and without transfers they have nothing to put in front!i hope pep start ibra in saturday,he scores 1-2 goals and that stop!

  25. in other news liverpool signing poulsen from juventus!he is a DM so i guess our door is open for mache!

  26. It is indeed boring for EMD and Sport to go on and on about Ibra swap with Man City. And that too for Robinho when the same papers were reporting two days earlier that Pep had vetoed Robinho. They really do not have any news.

    I do have to say that i am absolutely disgusted with lot of these newspapers in last month for putting false news and false quotes time and again. Have they even heard of thing called integrity.

  27. The good news? Only a bit over two weeks left in the transfer season.

    The bad news? A bit over two weeks left in the transfer season.

    Liverpool’s Poulsen deal means that they consider Mascherano all but gone. Dependent upon who you fancy, we have either already offered or are going to offer Hleb+15m for Mascherano.

    Meanwhile, Les Bleus went down 2-1 to Norway. But I liked the fire and effort. Better that than Anelka &Co sloshing about in desultory 0-0.

    1. “I called him to ask for an explanation. He didn’t respond. I then left him a strong message and he sent one back pretending he didn’t understand. He is free to say what he wants, but he should have tried to have a chat with me first. In an interview later on he repeated his remarks and said that he had tried to call me and that I had not replied. This is false.

      “He sullied my name without knowing what happened. Lilian thinks he’s the new coach, president of the FFF and president of France.

      “He said that Les Blues are contributing to increasing racism. It is time that Lilian stops playing a role that isn’t his to play. Walking around with books on slavery in glasses and a hat does not turn you into Malcolm X.”

  28. Paradigmaguardiola (a few of you may know who this is, I know Hector did) has some videos on some of the youngsters that were involved in the U20 cup with Spain. Planas, Bartra, Thiago… and a bit of Jonathan playing against Bejing

    He has a nice little website as well and he actually uses the video you posted of Jonathan, Ramzi.

    1. Being the first youtube video I make, that’s encouraging enough that I may change my job 😀

      Nice collection he has there.

Comments are closed.