U.S. vs. Brazil on Nov. 10: National television, out-of-window matches, and an infrequent Selecao


After the 2011 World Cup, matches between Brazil and the U.S. Women’s National Team will never be the same, something which may explain why today’s announcement of a Nov. 10 friendly between the two sides came with the unexpected surprise of a network television appearance. As Kyle Bonn mentioned earlier, the game is going to be on NBC, but the more interesting parts of today’s announcement: the game doesn’t take place on an FIFA international match day; and it represents one of the infrequent times Brazil’s national team actually plays soccer games.

U.S. Soccer made the news official this morning, announcing the rumored November friendly will take place at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Capitalizing on the profile the teams’ rivalry has achieved in the wake of their dramatic, quarterfinal meeting at Germany 2011, the game will get a 3:30 p.m. Eastern, national television kick off.

While the game will almost assuredly lack another Abby Wambach, at-the-death equalizer, it will present a chance to get the top three finishers for FIFA World Player of the Year on the same field. Wambach, Alex Morgan, and Brazilian attacker Marta were all finalists for last year’s award.

“Over the last several years, there’s been an intense rivalry between the two countries and a series of games that have been very tightly contested, highly competitive and of course extremely dramatic,” U.S. head coach Tom Sermanni said, through U.S. Soccer. “It will be a fantastic game to finish the year off.”

It will also give the Orlando soccer community a chance to take center stage. As their local third division club (Orlando City SC) claimed this season’s USL PRO title, the city gained national attention for the multiple five-digit crowds they were able to attract to the Citrus Bowl (attendances that far eclipsed the league’s average draw). The fervency of the area’s growing soccer fanbase has led to widespread speculation the club will be among Major League Soccer’s expansion franchises as the league, currently at 19 teams, seeks to reach 24.

With the likes of Wambach, Morgan, and Hope Solo likely to join their teammates in Florida, the Brazil friendly gives Orlando another chance to shine on the soccer landscape.

“Orlando City SC is thrilled to help bring the U.S. Women’s National Team to Orlando,” said Orlando City President Phil Rawlins told U.S. Soccer. “Successfully hosting this match will be yet another step forward in Orlando City’s goal of being announced this year as the next Major League Soccer (MLS) Expansion Club.”

Among the players unlikely to join the U.S. in Orlando: Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Christen Press, and Ali Krieger. All four U.S. regulars play in Europe, and because this Brazil friendly is scheduled outside a FIFA reserved match date, Lyon (Rapinoe), Paris Saint-Germain (Heath), and Tyresö (Press, Krieger) will be under no obligation to release their players.

FIFA has a break scheduled for Nov. 23 through Nov. 28, and while clubs could still grant their players permission to join their national team for its game on the 10th (Tyresö, in particular), the U.S. may be left in the same position as it is for an upcoming friendly against Australia: Without it’s Europe-based talent for the visit from A Seleçao.

That the U.S. will play Brazil at all may be more notable than the match date tension. November’s will be Brazil’s sixth game of the year, a paltry number for a team ranked fourth in the world. The U.S. (ranked first by FIFA) is scheduled to play 16 times. Japan (third) is scheduled to play 15, while Germany (second) will play 20 times in 2013. Historically underfunded and borderline neglected beyond qualifying tournaments and major events, Brazil’s women’s team will get one of their infrequent opportunities to test themselves.

(Brazil did play 13 games in 2012, the same number of games as Germany. Japan played 19. The U.S. played 20 times. In the down years of 2009 and 2010, Brazil averaged 8.5 games per year.)

The last time the teams met, the U.S. won 3-0 in Japan, the teams playing in Chiba during a spring tournament. Given the lack of work Brazil gets at this point of the cycle, the result may be the same in Orlando. That will probably suit the home crowd just fine, with the Citrus Bowl potentially packing a large crowd to see the world’s top-ranked team take on one of its biggest rivals.

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

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Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
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The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

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Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)