USWNT: Brazil, Since Last We Met…

The United States Women’s National Team will play Brazil in the USA’s second match of the Women’s Kirin Challenge Cup on April 3rd, in Japan. The last time these two teams met was just eight months ago, in the 2011 Women’s World Cup. Since that match, Brazil has changed its head coach, changed its captain, and changed its federation’s president. The one thing that has not changed is Brazil’s reliance on a three-back formation.

THE LAST ENCOUNTER

It was July 10th, 2011, in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinal…

(FYI: FIFA now has an official YouTube channel.)

…The USA won on spot kicks, but not before an early Brazilian own goal; Rachel Buehler being ejected via a straight red card; Marta scoring on a retaken penalty kick, tying the match; Marta scoring a go-ahead goal in extra time; Erika’s injury simulation; Abby Wambach’s 120+2′ equalizer; the penalty shoot-outs; Hope Solo’s save; and Ali Krieger’s final spot kick. USA 2, Brazil 2 (a.e.t, 5:3 pso). (FIFA.com match page)

BRAZIL’S SUBSEQUENT MATCHES

Since the WWC quarterfinal, Brazil has played in the Pan-American Games, a friendly tournament in São Paolo, and the friendly versus Canada, last weekend (24-Mar-2012).

2011 Pan-American Games (Guadalajara, Mexico): Brazil was the defending gold medalists, as they won the 2007 edition of the tournament, which was hosted in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Head coach Kleiton Lima took a mixed squad of younger players as well as older players to Mexico.

Absent from the roster were several notable players, including Marta, Christiane, Andreia, Fabiana, Aline, and Erika. Their absence was mostly due to their clubs not releasing these players for this tournament, as it is not officially recognized by FIFA.The younger players included U-20 midfielder Beatriz (Bia) and U-20 forward Thais Guedes, who were both at the 2011 WWC, plus Ketlen Wiggers, who is also a U-20 forward, and Débora, who turned 21 during the tournament. Lima brought in veteran players such as centerback Tânia (then 38) and outside midfielder Maycon (then 34), as well as a handful of mid-career players who were not at the WWC. (Full roster via KleitonLima.com.br)

Brazil made it to the final, but could only manage to score six (6) goals in their five (5) matches: Brazil 2, Argentina 0; Brazil 2, Costa Rica 1; Brazil 0, Canada 0; Brazil 1, Mexico 0; and Brazil 1, Canada 1. Brazil’s goal scorers were Thais Guedes (2), Danielle, Débora (2), and Maurine. The 0:0 and 1:1 draws against Canada were a far cry from Brazil’s 7:0 drubbing of Canada in group play at the 2007 tournament. In that match, Marta had a quintet of goals.

In the final, Brazil scored early (4′), but Christine Sinclair had a late equalizer (87′) for a somewhat full-strength Canada, which sent the match to overtime, and then to penalties. Once again, Brazil fell to a North American country via spot kicks (3:4), this time with Karina LeBlanc stopping two attempts. The results of the kicks for Brazil were Francielle (goal), Maurine (goal), Grazielle (blocked), Ketlen (goal), and Débora (blocked).

City of São Paolo International Tournament: The Torneio Internacional Cidade São Paulo was a friendly round-robin tournament of four teams, with placement matches. Brazil played Italy, Chile, and Denmark. This tournament was the first for the team under their “new” head coach, Jorge Barcellos, who had previously helmed the team from 2006 to 2008.  Unlike the Pan-Am Games, the squad was essentially at full strength with the likes of Marta, Christiane, Andreia, Rosana, Fabiana, and Erika back on the roster.

Brazil cruised through its first two group matches, with a 5:1 victory over Italy and a 4:0 win versus Chile (video highlights). But, in their third group match, Brazil lost to Denmark 0:1. Brazil would avenge this loss in the first place match, with a 2:1 come-from-behind victory with Erika scoring both goals (video highlights). Brazil’s goal scorers: Erika (4), Ester, Christiane, Marta, Aline, Rosana, Thais Guedes, and Fabiana.

Canada Friendly (24-Mar-2012): This was Brazil’s first international match of the year. Brazil played without most of its European-based players, who had just arrived into camp the day before.  With Brazil short-handed, Barcellos put Maurine on the backline as the right centerback (Aline’s normal spot); Rafaelle Souza (Ole Miss) got her first start; and U-20 players Beatriz and Thais Guedes also started the match.

Brazil lost to Canada 1:2, with Christine Sinclair scoring both goals for Canada. Both times, long passes were used to bypass Brazil’s flat defense and free Sinclair on attacking runs. Brazil’s only score came via a penalty kick after Erika was apparently fouled. Gabriela Zanotti, who played collegiately for NCAA D2 school Franklin Pierce University converted the penalty.

Marta, who is now based in Sweden, played the second half and was her side’s one bright spot. The starting goalkeeper, Andreia, was injured during the first half due to a head-to-head collision, but after staying overnight in a hospital, appears to be fine. Match reports: Canada SA, Brazil’s CBF.

Highlights via Canada Soccer:

OFF THE FIELD

Jorge Barcellos Replaces Kleiton Lima as Head Coach: In late November 2011, past Brazilian WNT head coach (and past St. Louis Athletica head coach) Jorge Barcellos was named as the new head coach. There does not seem to be an official reason for the change, though apparently, the failure of Brazil to make the semifinals at the WWC and Brazil’s failure to defend its Pan-Am Games gold medal were the key factors. During Lima’s tenure, Brazil had just one loss (versus Sweden, in a friendly at Stockholm, in 2009). His overall record was 26 wins, 1 loss, and six draws (source). Lima is now an assistant coach with Red Bull Brasil, a second division men’s team in the state of São Paulo.

Daiane Menezes (Bagé) is Named as the New Captain: This was just announced in the past week, and is somewhat surprising, given that (1) Daiane is only a year older than the previous captain, Aline Pellegrino, so this does not seem to be a passing of the torch change, and (2) Daiane seems to be one of the more introverted of Brazil’s players, both on-field and off. Perhaps the fact that Daiane is based in Brazil and is able to attend all of the squad’s training camps, while Aline who currently plays in Europe, for Russian side WFC Rossiyanka, cannot, was a key factor.

Ricardo Teixeira Resigns as President of the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol: Ricardo Teixeira who had been President of Brazil’s soccer federation, the CBF, for over 23 years (since January 1989), resigned March 10th of this year, citing the classic excuse of “health reasons.” Teixeira had facing multiple accusations of corruptions over his tenure, including an investigation by Brazil’s legislature, which recommended his prosecution. The final straw emerged last year as FIFA President Sepp Blatter began a push for corruption reforms. (Reuters article on Teixiera’s resignation; ESPN column on Teixeira’s resignation). The new president of the CBF is career politician Jose Maria Marin (pt.Wikipedia), who at age 79, is only expected to be in charge of the CBF until 2015, at the latest, which is when the next election is scheduled. Whether this change in leadership leads to positive developments for Brazil’s WNT and women’s soccer in Brazil remains to be seen.

Santos FC Cuts Its Women’s Team: In January, Santos FC, one of Brazil’s biggest clubs, disbanded its women’s team, citing financial reasons, namely the lack of sponsorships. At the time, the team had national team players Andreia, Erika, Maurine, and Gabriela on its roster. In the past, Marta and Cristiane had played for the squad during the WPS’ offseason. Santos also cut its men’s futsal (indoor soccer) team at the same time. (Brazilian news article on the cuts.) A number of Santos’ players, including Erika, Maurine, and Gabriela, were recently signed by A.D. Centro Olympico, which is a sports club hosted by the state of São Paulo’s Olympic Training Center (internal article).

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BRAZIL’S KIRIN CUP ROSTER

Edit/Note: It appears that Jorge Barcellos has been trying out a 4-4-2 formation, at least since January. Brazil’s recent friendly versus Canada appears to be the first official use of the formation. Previously, under Kleiton Lima, Brazil used a 3-4-3 system, which is explained here.

  • Goalkeepers: Andreia Suntaque, Bárbara Micheline Barbosa
  • Centerbacks: Aline Pellegrino, Daiane (Bagé), Erika, Renata Costa
  • Fullbacks (Laterais) or Outside Midfielders (Alas): Danielli Silva, Fabiana, Maurine, Rafaelle, Rosana
  • Center Midfielders: Beatriz, Ester, Formiga, Francielle, Maria
  • Forwards: Cristiane, Grazielle, Marta, Thais Guedes

For more details about specific players, please refer to this detailed roster (internal).

Quick Notes:

  • Daiane is the sweeper in a three-back system.
  • Ester and Maria are primarily holding midfielders.
  • Renata Costa is a holding midfielder for her club, and played in that position in the recent Canada friendly.
  • Maurine played right fullback centerback versus Canada at Foxboro.
  • Fabiana generally plays on the right, while Rosana usually plays on the left.
  • Rafaelle primarily plays on the left.
  • Rosana has also played as an attacking/playmaking midfielder. See Brazil’s 2011 WWC line-ups and its 2011 Pan-Am Games line-ups.
  • Beatriz seems to be primarily an attacking/playmaking midfielder.
  • Grazielle has also played as an attacking/playmaking midfielder.
  • Erika, who is listed as a centerback, generally plays as a forward for her club teams (last with Santos FC)

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USA-BRAZIL ALL-TIME NOTABLES

First Match: 22 July 1986, in Jesolo, Italy. The USA won 2:1. This was Brazil’s first international match, and the eighth for the USA.

Brazil’s First Win: 13 December, 1997, in São Paulo. Score: 0:1.

Overall Record: The USA has 23 wins over Brazil and has only lost twice. The two sides have tied three times (23-2-3). Brazil’s only other win was the ugly 2007 WWC semifinal, an 0:4 defeat for the USA.

Record Outside the USA and Brazil: The USA and Brazil have played each other nine times outside both countries. The USA’s record is 7-1-1, with the only loss being the 2007 WWC semifinal, and the only tie was the 2011 WWC quarterfinal. Excluding the Olympics and World Cups, the two sides have only met twice outside their combined borders. In both matches, the USA won by a single goal. The first was the Jesolo 1986 match, while the second one was in the 2008 Peace Cup in South Korea (17 June; a 1:0 victory for the USA).