Frank Isola: Neymar-led Brazil should be considered the favorite heading into the next World Cup

Neymar was brilliant as Brazil easily handled the United States with early World Cup preparations officially underway.
LANDOVER, Md. -- Brazil left the United States, and in particular Jurgen Klinsmann, frustrated, angry and confused which is standard operating procedure for the team in the celebrated yellow jerseys.

Brazil was efficient, creative and organized in its 4-1 win in a friendly on Wednesday. It was also quite lucky, scoring a pair of goals that were the result of questionable officiating. The calls and his team’s response to Brazil’s physical play is what had Klinsmann fuming afterwards.

“We need to get an edge more nastier," said Klinsmann, the U.S. coach and former German star and coach. "Maybe we're a little bit still too naive. Maybe we don't want to hurt people. But that's what we've got to do. You've got to do that at the end of the day. So we've got to step on their toes more and get them more frustrated and make a case with the referee maybe as well, for us, not only the opponent."

Sure, the hand ball on U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu was certainly disputable since Onyewu was merely protecting himself from Leandro Damiao's shot. In fact, Klinsmann contends that not only did the ball not strike Onyewu’s arm but that the alleged foul took place outside the 18-yard box. Regardless, referee Jeffrey Calderon of Puerto Rico made the call and Neymar, by far the most talented player on the field, buried the penalty kick.

The United States has enough trouble playing Brazil from ahead. (Remember the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa?) Playing Brazil from behind, even for some of the top teams on the planet, is a fruitless endeavor. Brazil’s possession game and attacking style entertained the near capacity crowd at Fed Ex Field and had the U.S. defense on its heels.

Neymar, the 20-year-old sensation, and Porto striker Hulk are both equal parts quick and skillful and will be central players for Brazil when it hosts the World Cup in two years. Neymar was brilliant on Wednesday, scoring once and assisting on two other goals, including a corner kick that AC Milan’s Thiago Silva headed in for his first international goal. On that, Klinsmann had no one else to blame but his team for poor marking.

Hulk and Neymar set up Marcelo’s goal early in the second half to make it a 3-1 game and in the 87th minute Pato, the AC Milan striker, buried a cross from Marcelo past Tim Howard. Klinsmann argued afterwards that Pato received the pass in an offsides position but he appeared to be even with Onyewu, whose night ended the way it started.


It was an encouraging performance for Brazil, which receives an automatic berth as the 2014 World Cup host and is using a younger roster to prepare for the London Olympics. But make no mistake about it, Brazil is gearing up for the World Cup, a tournament it last won 2002 in South Korea. The South Americans will be under a lot of pressure to capture the trophy on their home soil and will go in as the favorites.

And why not? They are deep, talented and have a young star in Neymar to build around.

"It's not every day that one can come and apply all sorts of dribbles, between the legs, over the head," he said through a translator. "It was a good test to play with a tough team like the U.S."