- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 18, 2009

CENTURION, South Africa | Soccer rivalries don’t get much more one-sided than Brazil vs. the United States.

A five-time world champion, Brazil is 12-1 against the Americans. The lone U.S. victory was a 1-0 upset at Los Angeles in the 1993 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

“I think historically Brazil is, if not the best national team ever, one of the best,” U.S. forward Landon Donovan said Wednesday. “Everyone growing up has watched some film of Brazilian players or the Brazilian team that is exciting to watch from a pure football standpoint.”

The United States opened the Confederations Cup on Monday with a 3-1 loss to Italy in which it wasted an early lead. With a loss to the Brazilians on Thursday, the United States would be eliminated if Italy ties or defeats Egypt in the day’s late game.

“We understand, in these types of competitions, the importance of the first game,” U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. “But regardless, the second game always will be key.

“We’ve given examples of situations where teams won the first game and maybe started thinking too far ahead and ultimately paid the price. We’ve seen examples of teams that lost the first game and still understood there are two more games to advance. The way our group is looking - a point in this game may not be enough. So you take the game as it comes, but certainly the idea is to play and find the three points.”

At the 2006 World Cup, the United States opened with a 3-0 loss to the Czech Republic, then tied Italy 1-1 and was in position to advance with a victory over Ghana. But the Americans lost 2-1 and were eliminated.

During the last U.S. appearance at the Confederations Cup in France in 2003, the Americans were knocked out with losses in their first two matches - 2-1 to Turkey and 1-0 to Brazil.

The United States played Brazil most recently in September 2007, losing 4-2 in an exhibition at Chicago’s Soldier Field. Brazil scored off a corner kick, a free kick and a penalty kick.

U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra, sidelined since straining a hamstring during a World Cup qualifier June 6, was estimated by Bradley at 50 or 60 percent. The Americans will be without midfielder Ricardo Clark, ejected from the match against Italy for a late tackle on Gennaro Gattuso.

Elsewhere in the Confederations Cup, Spain advanced to the semifinals with a 1-0 victory over Iraq. Host South Africa eliminated New Zealand with a 2-0 win, moving closer to a berth in the semifinals.

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