USA gets Copa America momentum back with Brazil draw

United States coach Gregg Berhalter called his team’s 1-1 draw with star-studded Brazil on Wednesday night a “little step” on the road to success ahead of Copa America. He also said “we’re ready.”

“We asked for teamwork and intensity,” Berhalter said after the match at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium. “The way we framed it is two things that are totally in their control. It doesn’t matter about the opponent, it doesn’t matter about the field, the fans or anything. That’s the type of effort that we saw today. The boys certainly did really well on that and that was good. We feel like we made a little step.”

Despite conceding in the 16th minute with a goal from Rodrygo, the Stars and Stars managed to maintain offensive pressure before eventually finding the equalizer through a clever, right-footed free kick by Christian Pulisic.

“It’s not a huge step, but it’s a little step to be able to play against an amazingly talented Brazil team and bend but not break,” Berhalter added. “And give them problems as well, push them as well. So for us, looking at it, we think it’s a good end to a preparation camp when we’re ready for Copa.”

The team recovered well after the shocking 5-1 defeat to Colombia on Saturday night, gaining what coach and players alike called momentum before kicking off the Copa America campaign against Bolívia on June 23 before facing Panama and Uruguay in group play.

“We feel confident, you know. I think it was only a few days that we had to turn around,” Chris Richards told ESPN. “But I think our biggest thing we had to turn around was our mentality. So I think we showed that tonight, and that’s what we got a result.”

“I’m just happy the way we fought collectively. We could’ve scored one or two of them, but overall it was a really positive night for everyone,” added Giovanni Reyna.

Berhalter made several changes to the starting 11 that faced Brazil, replacing Folarin Balogun with Ricardo Pepi and substituting Yunus Musah for Johnny Cardoso to give the players minutes to prove themselves ahead of the tournament.

“We wanted to purposely get minutes for some guys. You know, you just with all the guys want to get a shift because we’re going to be in the couple of Americans,” Berhalter said. “So, it was designed for that. And Rico’s had. A tough year. You know, he hasn’t gotten it not too often.

“And again, with that stuff we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to keep moving and fixing.”

Berhalter also highlighted goalkeeper Matt Turner for recovering from the Colombia defeat, learning from his mistakes in order to turn out an 11-save performance, the most by a U.S. keeper since Tim Howard in the 2014 World Cup against Belgium.

“He stayed calm. That’s the most important thing,” Berhalter said. “He stayed calm. I thought he managed the game well. That was an incident that could have set him back a little bit into the offense, but he responded really well to that.

“He wasn’t so happy with his performance last game, and as you can see, he came out and had a much better game.”