USA give Brazil a scare

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The Independent Football

Three days after recording their first victory in World Cup qualifying over Mexico in 20 years, the United States national team team gave powerful Brazil a scare before losing 2-1 in a friendly at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday.

Three days after recording their first victory in World Cup qualifying over Mexico in 20 years, the United States national team team gave powerful Brazil a scare before losing 2-1 in a friendly at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday.

The South Americans, playing in front of a pro-Brazil crowd of 45,387, took the lead through a 25th-minute strike by Ronaldinho, only to surrender an equaliser five minutes before the interval as Clint Mathis scored for the home nation. Mathis injected some life into a weakened US side, who fielded only two starters from their line-up against Mexico.

Brazil dominated much of the second half, scoring the winner after 56 minutes when Eueller capped a series a superb passes by slotting home easily from close range. The goal came after Roque Junior worked a one-two with Arsenal's Silvinho, who caught the US defence napping with a well-placed pass to Eueller. The visitors enjoyed some luck as Lucio cleared a shot by Tony Sanneh off the line in the 75th minute.

The US, who showed signs of fatigue in the latter stages, had had the better of play in the opening half, when Brazil were content to take it easy and were almost caught out by suspect defending on occasions.

Brazil opened the scoring through a well-taken Ronaldinho free-kick after the Gremio Porto Alegre forward was fouled by Richie Williams just outside the penalty area. Ronaldinho bent the ensuing free-kick to beat the veteran goalkeeper Tony Meola at his near post.

The US equalised when Chris Armas put Mathis through on the right wing, where he bustled past a pair of Brazilians and shot just inside the left post from a tough angle.

"I thought this was a very good game for us," the US coach, Bruce Arena, said. "We were a bit under-manned, but I thought we had a very good first half and if we had put together some better passing, I think we could have given Brazil a better game." Nearly all of the first-team players had returned to their European clubs because of weekend commitments.

The Brazilians play a friendly with Mexico in Guadalajara on 7 March before resuming World Cup qualifying on 27 March against Ecuador.

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