- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 18, 2009

— If this was a dress rehearsal for next year’s World Cup, the United States showed it’s far from ready.

The U.S. was hammered for the second time in a four-day span at the Confederations Cup, with Brazil outplaying the Americans 3-0 on Thursday.

Felipe Melo scored off Maicon’s free kick in the seventh minute and Robinho made it 2-0 in the 20th, completing a counterattack that began when DaMarcus Beasley failed to come up with a short corner kick. Maicon added the third goal in the 62nd.

The United States (0-2) finished a man short for the second straight game. Sacha Kljestan was ejected by Swiss referee Massimo Busacca in the 57th minute for a rough foul on Ramires.

“Tentative start, goal on the set piece,” U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. “Just an awfully difficult way to start vs. Brazil.”

Combined with an opening 3-1 loss to Italy on Monday, the defeat put the United States on the verge of first-round elimination. While the U.S. plays Egypt on Sunday, the Americans would have no chance to advance if Italy gained at least a tie against the Egyptians later Thursday.

Missing injured defenders Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo and Frankie Hejduk, the U.S. been shaky in the back. Melo’s goal marked the third time in four matches the United States fell behind within the first seven minutes.

The U.S. has never overcome a deficit against Brazil, which improved to 13-1 in head-to-head meetings and has outscored the United States 26-8. The lone American victory was a 1-0 upset at the 1998 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Brazil (2-0), the defending Confederations Cup champion and a five-time World Cup winner, opened with a 4-3 victory over Egypt and is assured a berth in the semifinals going into its final first-round match, against Italy on Sunday.

Melo beat defender Jonathan Spector for the first goal, taking Maicon’s 25-yard free kick following a foul by Michael Bradley and heading it past goalkeeper Tim Howard from about 5 yards.

The second goal came on an end-to-end effort after Beasley failed to read Landon Donovan’s short corner kick. Andres Santos cleared to Kaka, the 2007 FIFA player to the year, who touched the ball to Ramires. He dribbled 50 yards upfield before dishing off to Robinho.

Maicon got the third goal off passes from Kaka and Ramires, with the last pass bouncing off defender Jonathan Bornstein right by the goal.

The closest the U.S. came to scoring was when second-half substitutes Benny Feilhaber and Conor Casey hit the crossbar in the final 10 minutes.

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