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The U.S. will get a chance at their first ever major tournament title on Sunday when they take on Brazil for all the marbles in the Confederations Cup.

Who: United States vs. Brazil

What: Championship, Confederations Cup

When: 2:30 ET, Sunday, June 28

Where: Ellis Park Stadium; Johannesburg, South Africa

TV: ESPN and Univision

 

By Noah Davis

 

Just 10 days after Brazil blitzed the United States Men's National Team 3-0 in group play of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup -- arguably the poorest performance by a Bob Bradley-coached team -- the Stars and Stripes get another crack at the Samba Boys with the championship trophy on the line. This isn't the same American squad that took the pitch in Pretoria, however. After sneaking into the semifinals courtesy of a resounding victory over Egypt and a complete failing from Italy, the U.S. posted a confident, impressive, and eye-opening win over world No. 1 Spain. That said, Brazil is Brazil and one more world-shaking win will be difficult to come by for the gelling Red, White, and Blue.

 

The Captain is Dead, Long Live the Captain

After a three-match absence, U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra returned to the line up against Spain, albeit in a new position. The usual centerback manned the left flank -- where he plays for his club side, Rennes -- leaving Jay DeMerit to partner with Oguchi Onyewu in the middle. Bocanegra wasn't perfect, but he grew into the position as the match wore on and helped the U.S. post a clean sheet against one of the world's best offenses. It was a triumph of energy, hustle, and team defending. Assuming Bradley sticks with the formation that had success against Spain, the left back faces the difficult task of stopping Brazil's Maicon, who ran roughshod over Jonathan Bornstein in the first meeting. The fate of the Americans could very well rest in how well Bocanegra handles this challenge.

 

Same Sqaud, Different Look

Four players featured in the U.S. Starting XI 10 days ago -- Bornstein, DaMarcus Beasley, Sacha Kljestan, and Michael Bradley -- shouldn't figure at the beginning of the rematch. While Bradley is out after drawing an extremely questionable red card against Spain (and rumors are circulating that he'll miss more games for berating the referee in the tunnel after the final whistle), the trio has been replaced in favor of players in better form. Ricardo Clark -- suspended for the first game -- will face the task of stopping, or at least slowing down, Brazil's vaunted and creative attack. Benny Feilhaber will probably pair alongside the Houston Dynamo midfielder and needs to focus his efforts on playing defense first, something that could be a struggle for the offensive-minded footballer. Going forward, the U.S., which scored on both its shot on net against the Spanish, will once again need to be sure with its chances.

 

Death By Versatility

The Samba Boys played their worst game of the Confed Cup in the semifinal round against South Africa, only advancing after late substitute Dani Alves struck a brilliant free kick in the game's dying moments. That said, whereas Spain seemed to be content to attack the American wings and cross the ball into the middle -- a strategy that failed repeatedly -- Brazil has proven throughout the competition that it can score in multiple ways: with overwhelming possession, on the counterattack (witness its lightning quick goal strike against U.S.), and in dead ball situations. Every team has one off game per tournament and, unfortunately for the Americans, it seems as though Brazil just played its.

 

Projected U.S. Lineup

------------------------Howard-----------------------

Spector-----Onyewu-----DeMerit-----Bocanegra

Dempsey-----Feilhaber------Clark------Donovan

--------------Davies--------------Altidore-----------

 

Projected Brazil Lineup

------------------Julio Caesar---------------

Maicon-----Luisão-------Lucio----Santos

----------------Melo----Silva---------------

Ramires----------Kaka----------Robinho

--------------------Fabiano-----------------

 

Goal.com prediction

United States 1-2 Brazil

 

Noah Davis covers the United States Men's National Team for Goal.com.

 

For more on the U.S. National Team visit Goal.com's U.S. National Team page.

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