Nick Wass/Associated Press
LANDOVER, Md. – Neymar converted a penalty kick and assisted on goals by defenders Thiago Silva and Marcelo as Brazil took advantage of a sloppy American backline to beat the United States 4-1 in an exhibition game Wednesday night.
Neymar, the 20-year-old Santos sensation, put Brazil ahead in the 12th minute after a hand ball on Oguchi Onyewu, then took a corner kick that Thiago Silva headed in for his first international goal in the 26th.
Herculez Gomez, making his first start for the U.S. since the 2010 World Cup, scored in the 45th following a fine run by Michael Bradley and cross by Fabian Johnson.
But before an enthusiastic crowd of 67,619 at FedEx Field, Marcelo restored the two-goal lead in the 52nd as Onyewu and American captain Carlos Bocanegra left him unmarked in front of the net. Second-half sub Alexandre Pato added a goal in the 87th.
The 29th-ranked Americans, coming off a 5-1 win over Scotland last weekend, had difficulty coping with the pace of the five-time World Cup champions.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann continued to tinker with his front line because Jozy Altidore didn’t arrive until Monday, and Clint Dempsey is recovering from a groin strain. Dempsey entered in the 57th minute, marking the first time he played with Landon Donovan since Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley as coach last July.
Following a 1-4-1 start under Klinsmann, the Americans had won five in a row, including an impressive 1-0 victory at Italy. But the time for experimenting under the former German national team star and coach is nearing an end. The U.S. plays at Canada on Sunday, then opens qualifying for the 2014 World Cup on June 8 against Antigua and Barbuda.
That opponent, of course, doesn’t resemble sixth-ranked Brazil in any way.
Brazil, which receives an automatic berth as the 2014 World Cup host, improved to 16-1 against the U.S. with a 35-11 goal difference. The Selecao used a young roster as they prepare for the Olympics, which is limited to players under 23 plus three older players.
Neymar scored against the U.S. in his national team debut two years ago. He took the penalty kick after the hand ball call on Leandro Damiao’s shot went off Onyewu, the tall defender who was benched after two games at the 2010 World Cup but regained his form this season with Sporting Lisbon. American goalkeeper Tim Howard dived to his right but Neymar sent the ball the other way for his ninth international goal.
Thiago Silva doubled the lead when he got away from Onyewu on Neymar’s corner kick, then surged between U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra and Jermaine Jones for an open header.
Gomez, making his first start since the Algeria match in the 2010 World Cup, scored after Bradley made a spurt toward the top of the box. He slotted to a streaking Johnson, who got behind the defense and sent a cross that bounced off the leg of a sliding defender. The ball bounced up to Gomez, who got behind goalkeeper Rafael Cabral and nodded it in from close range for his third international goal.
Marcelo made it 3-1 in the 52nd with just his fourth international goal. Hulk brought the ball down the left side and passed to Neymar. Onyewu and Bocanegra dropped back too far and Neymar pulled the ball back to the top of the 6-yard box, where Marcelo slid and put the ball in with his left foot.
Gomez almost got another goal in the 64th, but his header off Johnson’s cross was cleared off the goal line by Romula. Three minutes later, Neymar found a streaking Alexandre Pato in front of the goal, but his shot bounced off Howard’s near post.
Donovan then watched a deflected shot go a few yards wide in the 71st.
Brazil goalkeeper Cabral, making his national team debut, had a fine double save in the 76th, stopping Gomez with his left hand, then kicking away Jones’ effort. Cabral leaped to palm Bradley’s header over the crossbar in the 85th, and Onyewu headed the ball off the crossbar on Donovan’s free kick.
Pato entered in the 65th and appeared to be offside when he scored off a pass from Marcelo, Pato’s first goal for Brazil since July.