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Pulisic, Turner rescue US in draw with Brazil

ORLANDO (AFP) – The United States bounced back from their 5-1 defeat to Colombia to earn a morale-boosting 1-1 draw with Brazil in their final warm-up game before the Copa America late on Wednesday.

US skipper Christian Pulisic’s rasping first half free-kick ensured a share of the spoils for Gregg Berhalter’s side after Brazil had taken the lead through Real Madrid striker Rodrygo at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium.

Christian Pulisic of the United States shoots a free-kick against Brazil during the Continental Clasico 2024 game. PHOTO: AFP

Berhalter, who faced calls to resign after watching his team get dismantled by Colombia on Saturday, had challenged his players to deliver an improved performance against the five-time World Cup winners.

Berhalter’s men responded with a dogged display that made them well worth their first ever draw against Brazil after 18 defeats in 19 previous meetings.

US Goalkeeper Matt Turner was the hero for the hosts, pulling off a string of fine saves to keep Brazil at bay.

At the other end, Brazil keeper Alisson twice denied what might have been winning goals for the United States late in the game, saving from Pulisic and Brenden Aaronson in quick succession.

“It’s obviously a huge bounce back performance for us from the other day,” Turner said, citing the Colombia rout. “I think what we did today can sort of put that to bed.”

Turner said the result augured well for the USA’s Copa America campaign, where the Americans face Bolivia, Panama and Uruguay in the first round, and could possibly face Brazil again in the quarter-finals.

“I think the huge positive from today is to take like a triumph from it,” Turner said. “We really stared into the face of adversity and were able to bounce back a few days later.

“In tournament play, that’s so, so important, because not every result, not every call is gonna go your way and you have to be able to put things behind you move on and put the next foot in front of the other.”

An entertaining first half saw Turner frustrate Brazil early on as the South Americans carved out a string of openings.

Yet Brazil’s early pressure finally paid off after 17 minutes, when a poor goalkick by Turner handed possession to Brazil deep inside US territory and Raphinha picked out Rodrygo who took one touch to control before drilling a low finish into the bottom corner.

Brazil’s Rodrygo dribbles the ball against Joe Scally of the United States. PHOTO: AFP

At that stage Brazil looked poised to overrun the US, and American fans were given more nervous moments when Raphinha curled a shot over the bar before Rodrygo went in on goal only to be denied by Turner again.

Yet the US refused to wilt and on 24 minutes Pulisic accelerated into space on the edge of the Brazil area before being fouled by Joao Gomes to win a free-kick in a dangerous position.

Pulisic duly took full advantage from the set-piece, driving a venomous low strike into the bottom corner to make it 1-1.

An end-to-end second half saw Brazil continue to threaten, yet it was the US who came closest to breaking the deadlock. 

A counter-attack culminated with Weston McKennie picking out Pulisic in space inside the area, only for the US captain to aim his shot too close to Alisson, who reflexively dived to his left to stop a certain goal.

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