USMNT Hold Brazil in Last Match Before Copa America

USMNT surprised with a heroic draw against the five-time world champions
Brazil v United States - Continental Clasico 2024
Brazil v United States - Continental Clasico 2024 / Rich Storry/GettyImages

Orlando witnessed a memorable night this Wednesday as the United States Men's National Team (USMNT) secured a valuable 1-1 draw against Brazil in their final friendly before Copa America 2024. This match, played before a fervent crowd of 60,016 spectators at Camping World Stadium, was more than just a preparation game; it was a true test of character and resilience for a team seeking redemption and affirmation.

Following a crushing 5-1 defeat to Colombia the previous Saturday, criticisms and doubts surrounding Gregg Berhalter's team were intense. Yet the coach instilled in his players the importance of teamwork and intensity, qualities within their control regardless of the opponent or circumstances. And the players responded admirably.

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Brazil seemed on track for another victory when Real Madrid star Rodrygo opened the scoring in the 17th minute. A goalkeeper Matt Turner's mistake provided the perfect opportunity for the Brazilian to score. However, the American response was swift and decisive. Just nine minutes later, Christian Pulisic, captain and central figure of the team, brilliantly converted a free kick, weaving it past the wall and Liverpool FC's goalkeeper Alisson.

The game continued intensely, with both teams creating chances and forcing the goalkeepers to work hard. Turner, who started with an error, redeemed himself spectacularly, recording 11 saves, a personal record, and the most saves by a US goalkeeper since the legendary Tim Howard against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup. Alisson, on his part, also showcased his class, notably denying Pulisic a certain goal in the 68th minute with an impressive save.

This draw was not just a positive result but a true statement of intent from the USMNT. Ending a streak of 11 consecutive defeats against Brazil and achieving only the second positive result in 20 encounters (1 win, 18 losses, 1 draw) is a significant feat. And beyond the scoreline, it was the manner of play that should be celebrated. There was discipline, fighting spirit, and resilience that were lacking in the match against Colombia.

Joe Scally, the young right-back, was one of the standout performers, skillfully containing Vinicius Junior and other dangerous Brazilian attackers. His performance solidified his position in the team and showed he is ready for the challenges of Copa America. Tim Ream, the veteran defender, also stood out with a performance that belied his 36 years, proving that experience can be a valuable asset.

Berhalter made only two changes to the team that faced Colombia, signaling confidence in his squad. And that confidence paid off. The coach highlighted that despite the draw, there are areas needing improvement, such as defense and ball possession. Mistakes like the one that led to Brazil's goal will not be forgiven in more competitive competitions.

With Copa America quickly approaching, beginning with a match against Bolivia on June 23rd, this result against Brazil serves as an indispensable morale boost.