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Americans give Brazil a bit of a battle

Brazil 2, United States 1

PASADENA, Calif — In general, Brazil's soccer team is successful wherever it plays. In particular, it is masterful at the Rose Bowl.

Although Saturday's 2-1 victory over the United States didn't carry the importance of the Brazilians' last two trips to Pasadena, it was satisfying enough.

The Americans didn't back down against the four-time world champions, but they also didn't have much of a home-field advantage, either.

"It is always a great joy to play in the United States," said veteran forward Romario, the outstanding player in 1994 when Brazil won an unprecedented fourth World Cup — beating Italy in a penalty kick shootout after beating Sweden in the semifinals, both at the Rose Bowl.

"And it is a joy to play here at the Rose Bowl. It brings back great memories," he said.

This time, before a crowd of 45,387 that seemed split in its allegiance, the world's top-ranked soccer team got a 56th-minute goal from substitute Euller to win.

Euller tapped the ball into an empty net after a superb pass by Roque Junior freed Silvinho in the penalty area. At the end line, Silvinho dribbled around goalkeeper Tony Meola and poked the ball in front, where Euller finished.

"I would say it was more luck than anything skillful for me," Euller said. "The team made the play down the left side and I had only to touch it into an empty net."

The United States, coming off an emotional victory over Mexico in a World Cup qualifying opener Wednesday, fielded a young, mostly MLS-based team. But the Americans weren't overmatched.

"We're not stepping on the field to be a punching bag for Brazil," coach Bruce Arena said. "We're out there to compete."

The U.S. squad nearly tied it in the 75th. Substitute Tony Sanneh's shot off a nice passing display was cleared off the goal line by Lucio — the best defensive play of the generally wide-open game.

The Americans acquitted themselves well, but frittered away several other scoring chances by being indecisive and fell to 1-9 vs. Brazil.