Brazil boss takes ‘full responsibility’ for Copa América exit

LAS VEGAS — Brazil coach Dorival Junior said he takes “full responsibility” for his team’s underwhelming Copa América quarterfinal exit after losing to 10-man Uruguay 4-2 in a penalty shootout on Saturday.

“This type of work requires a great amount of patience,” said Dorival, who took charge in January, after the defeat at Allegiant Stadium.

“I do have to acknowledge that these weren’t the expected results, and I take full responsibility for them, but I do think as well that this team has great room to grow and evolve and improve.”

Despite having a one-man advantage after a red card given to Uruguay’s Nahitan Nández in the 74th minute, Brazil failed to break the deadlock as the feisty encounter featuring a tournament-high 41 fouls finished 0-0 after 90 minutes to go to penalties.

In the shootout, Éder Militão and Douglas Luiz failed to find the net for Brazil, while Alisson Becker denied Uruguay defender José María Giménez. However, Manuel Ugarte converted the winning spot kick to send Uruguay into the last four and Brazil to an early exit.

Brazil head home after earning just one win in the group stage before being defeated by Uruguay in the first knockout round.

The result also represents a downward turn for the Brazilians, who were finalists (2021) and champions (2019) in the two previous editions of the Copa.

“This is a process; in general, you come across difficulties when you’re creating a team,” said Dorival, whose team was without the suspended Vinícius Júnior in the quarterfinal.

“This was our first official tournament, and the result was far from what was expected … our main objective now is to qualify for the World Cup.”

Dorival, who has just eight games under his belt, defended his players after they only recently wrapped up their club campaigns before the competition.

“Many of them joined us after long seasons,” Dorival said. “Considering what we saw at the training sessions and every day, I think we can still grow as a team … many people might not understand, things are like this when you’re creating a team from scratch. There are ups and downs in football.”

It is the second consecutive loss for the Seleção against Marcelo Bielsa’s Uruguay, after being defeated 2-0 in October’s World Cup qualifier, during which Brazil star Neymar tore his left ACL.

While Bielsa is famed for his high-pressing soccer, Uruguay’s coach was asked if Saturday’s win was more reflective of the “Uruguayan style,” having needed to play more defensive with a man down.

“Everything that happens, happens in Uruguayan style,” said Bielsa. “It was a match with very few goal opportunities … when we were one man down, we decided to dedicate ourselves to defend in our half. But yes, we didn’t have very many second-half goal opportunities.”

With the victory, Uruguay continued their unbeaten run in the Copa and maintained their upward trajectory under Bielsa since his hiring in May 2023.

Despite Uruguay’s 15 Copa América titles, tied for the most with Argentina, it is the first time Uruguay have reached the semifinals since their most recent championship in 2011.

They’ll next face Colombia on Wednesday with a place in the final on the line. However, it remains to be seen if they’ll be able to call upon defenders Matías Viña and Ronald Araújo after both were forced off with injuries against Brazil.

“In the case of Viña, it wasn’t a muscle injury, but there was a level of wear down,” Bielsa said.

“Araújo, there is a muscle injury I think that could be confirmed tomorrow or after the relevant medical examination.”

On the other side of the bracket, Argentina will face Canada in a semifinal on Tuesday.

The Copa América final will be staged on July 14 in Miami Gardens, Florida.