WASHINGTON, DC, May 31 – Brazil playmaker Neymar scored one goal and set up two more to spark the five-time World Cup champions past the United States 4-1 on Wednesday in an international football friendly.
The Brazilians used the match to study talent ahead of the London Olympics, with 17 Olympic-eligible players on the roster, including Neymar, a 20-year-old Santos forward who has attracted interest from many of the world’s top clubs.
“It’s not every day one can apply dribbling over the head and between the legs, but I had a goal and two decisive passes, so I’m pretty happy about that,” Neymar said.
The Brazilians improved to 16-1 all-time against the Americans, winning for the ninth time in a row since suffering their only defeat, by 1-0, in 1998. And they did so with a young roster looking to London and Brazil’s 2014 World Cup.
“It’s a great satisfaction,” Neymar said. “We all knew the doors would open for the national team and we’re all happy about that.”
A crowd of 67,619 saw the Brazilians, coming off a 3-1 victory over Denmark on Saturday, end a five-match win streak for the Americans, who beat Italy 1-0 and routed Scotland 5-1 last Saturday in their run.
“I didn’t expect this, really,” Brazil coach Mano Menezes said. “But I saw the confidence of young players and I knew we could trust them. The response was very good.
“You can see in the faces of the players they can feel the accomplishment. We played better than we did against Denmark. We need to improve every game.”
US coach Jurgen Klinsmann was impressed with Neymar and his teammates, but sees flaws compared to past Brazilian dynasties.
“Neymar and the technical skills he has, he has the freshness to try things out — he does things you don’t expect,” Klinsmann said. “They have a very good young team. It’s a promising team. But it’s a beatable team.”
The Americans are preparing for the start of their 2014 World Cup qualifiers on June 8 against Antigua and Barbuda.
“We’re ready for qualifiers,” said US forward Herculez Gomez, who scored the lone goal for the hosts in the 45th minute. “We played well in stretches. We learned some things from this match.
“Once we get a little nasty I feel like we will be a lot better off.”
Neymar opened the scoring on a penalty in the 12th minute after US defender Oguchi Onyewu was whistled for blocking a shot with his left forearm at the top of the penalty area.
Neymar went to the spot against US goalkeeper Tim Howard, a standout for Everton in the Premier League. Howard dived to his right as Neymar fired into the open side, netting his ninth goal in 17 matches for Brazil.
The visitors took a 2-0 lead in the 26th minute when Neymar lofted a corner kick into the heart of the penalty area and Brazilian captain Thiago Silva headed the ball into the goal.
Gomez, a striker for Santos of Mexico, answered for the hosts, taking a cross from onrushing defender Fabian and deflecting the ball into the goal to trim the half-time deficit to 2-1.
Neymar set up Brazil’s third goal from the backline to the right of Howard, flicking a backward centering pass to Real Madrid defender Marcelo, who blasted the ball past a helpless Howard in the 52nd minute for a 3-1 Brazil lead.
Brazil closed the rout in the 88th minute on a left-footed blast by AC Milan’s Alexandre Pato.
“It’s bad. It’s not the end of the world,” Howard said. “It hurts.”