Anyone who follows football (ok, soccer) knows that international friendlies are usually dull and drab affairs which start of boring and slow only to degenerate into a farce of million subsititutions from both sides in the 2nd half. Players take it easy in their effort not to pick up an injuries and this being a post-season friendly most players just want to get over with and go for vacation.
So my expectations were pretty low. But I have never seen Brasil play live. If there is any team in the world that can WoW even with a 2nd string team, its gotta be the Brasilians. And their fans are known for their rabid support for their team and will go in numbers to support them, no matter where they play.
Enough preamble ramble.
Brasil brought their best team except for Kaka - injured and Ronaldinho (they say he is injured but well.. he is just tuned out of football these days). They brought Robinho, Diego, Adriano, Luis Fabiano, Danny Alves, Julio Baptista, Elano and the latest teen sensation, Alexandre Pato of AC Milan.
Canada - well I havent heard much about them. I know they have a very good player in Dwayne D'Rosario and Julian de Guzman who plays for the spanish club Deportivo La Coruña.
630pm - Entering the stadium. Sea of Yellow with a tinge of green. jerseys, caps, pom poms. facepaint, portuguese language and a few Red maple leafs as well.. loud and happening it was.
And then I spotted a guy with this T-shirt :)
The autograph of Ronaldo is beneath that papers taped to his shirt. I didnt ask for the price but I found it definitely enterprising. If it was autographed in 1994 and he has been trying to sell it this way then I wonder if he ever put it to laundry. :)). That said.. i think he is 5 years too late in trying to sell this. Ronaldo is way past his time.
6.45ish - Players came out to warm-up, to the loud cheers of the crowd especially when the Brazilian team strutted out.
7.30ish - American national anthem, followed by Canadian and the Brasilian. Crowd was well behaved all through, although I still dont get the point of playing national anthems before a game of football not least that of US cos they arent playing. I feel its kind of devaluing national anthem with people liquored up or having beer glasses in hands.
Oh btw - there were a lot of promotion for the Seattle Sounders and their title sponsors, Xbox 360.
Brasil quickly hit the top gear and before the Canadians could string a few passes together, Robinho was doing his thing. takes a ball on the left , near the byline, dummies a defender passes it to Diego (who plays for Werder Bremen) who slots across to the far bottom far corner.
The crowd erupts! trumpets, drums all kinds of noise. And I was impressed. As I said earlier, I never watched Brasil live. Their ball movement was smooth. The ball control. the moves.. its all there.. wow.. Canada are in for a long long evening..save for a small fact..
Brasil dont really have a defence. Dont get me wrong, the put a couple so called 'defenders' at the back, only that the dont know to defend. The can attack, pass the ball, run into advanced positions skillfully but man-on-man they can neither mark nor defend without fouling.
A long ball from Canada from the left into the penalty area.. Julio Caesar comes out to catch the ball and makes a meal of it as he get out-muscled by a Canadian forward (Friend is his name) who heads the ball seemingly from the outstretched hands of the keeper into the empty goal.
Canadian supporters were ecstatic. Their voices go up a few notches. I was sitting with a friend in the middle of Brasilian crowd and they were upset. Some swear words in Portuguese followed.
This happened around the 10-12 minute mark. From then on Canada played much better football, created more chances than Brasil. D'Rosario was every bit as good as I read he was. Rest of the players played well too. There was a #13 who played very well as well. with half-time approaching, Brazil score against the run of play. Nice cross into the 6 yard box, the big and tall Luis Fabiano jumps high to knock it in.
2nd half is where the friendly games usually descend into a farce. Luckily, this one didnt. Brasil kept the starters on. So did the Canadians.
And then came the goal of the match. Not from the Brasilians. But Shock Shock! O' Canada score a screamer!
From about 25 yards out Julian de Guzman picks up a lose ball (as a result of some typical clumsy defending from Brasil) and unleashes a quick shot into the top left corner. Julio Caesar had no chance of stopping that.
Around the 60 th Minute this was getting interesting. Can Canada stun the Brasilians? They kept up the tempo with tremendous work-rate.
If Guzman was hero 10 minutes ago, the fickle nature of football brings him crashing down to earth. He back-passes to his goalkeeper nonchalantly only to realise the horror that there was Robinho lurking for a mistake. The pass never makes it to the keeper. Robinhos intercepts, goes around the keeper and slots into an empty net.
What a mistake? he was not even under any pressure when he back-passes. He just made a hash of what could have been a great result for the Canada.
70 minutes+. Subsitutions galore. both sides. in comes, Adriano and Pato.
Adriano - I knew he is a big forward. Read and saw on TV. But to see him in person. he is really really huge. He is like a Hummer H3 among Rav4's and CR-V's. What a load.. You have to be really really strong to even foul him without hurting or making a fool of yourself. :):)
Both teams have a few more chances, mostly Brasil but Canada fought on gamely till the end. And thus it ended 3-2 to Brasil.
A 2-2 or 3-3 would have been a much fair result but then again, football is never fair. If there are any doubts ask Julian de Guzman.
'high' of my evening not related to football :)
All in all I had a great time but nothing can beat "Ou la la". There were a few french folks behind me - and heard "Ou la la" quite a few times. Somethings just cant be bought. This is one of those.
Conclusions and a few more pictures.
1. Brasil are a treat to watch
2. Brasilians defenders are at their best when they are attacking. they dont track back, they dont mark.
3. O' Canada has a very good team. If they can play this way in the WC 2010 qualifiers, they can make it.
4. Robinho's step-overs (bicicletas) are awesome.
5. Diego is a very good #10.
6. Brasilian fans are awesome. Even little babies have their own custom-made Brasilian shirts :)
7. I wish we get more big teams and good games in Seattle.
Qwest Field from outside - not enough power in the flash of my little canon