SEATTLE (Associated Press) — Fans in the United States aren't seeing Brazil's "A" team during its this two-game tour this week. It's not seeing the five-time world champion's "A" game, either.
The No. 2 ranked team in the world continually gave up prime scoring chances to lightly regarded Canada before Robinho scored the go-ahead goal in the 63rd minute off a gift giveaway pass. Brazil then held on for an entertaining 3-2 victory Saturday night, the first of two exhibitions in the United States before its World Cup qualifying resumes.
Brazil looked vulnerable playing without injured star Kaka, the reigning FIFA World Player of the Year who had arthroscopic knee surgery last week, plus marginalized veterans Ronaldinho and Ronaldo. The national team was also playing together for the first time in months after players recently returned from their professional seasons in Europe and South America and then vacations.
And Brazil coach Dunga said the loosely sodded, temporary grass field recently installed over Qwest Field's synthetic turf "wasn't very helpful for our speed."
"It was a game that was very difficult," said Luis Fabiano, who scored in the first half. "The Canadians were running a lot, and we were coming back from vacation - and we still won. I'm happy."
Canada, ranked 62nd in the world by FIFA, stunned the overwhelmingly pro-Brazilian crowd of 47,052 by tying the game at 2 in the 56th minute. Julian de Guzman, the first Canadian to play in Spain's La Liga, beat Julio Baptista to a loose ball and sent a searing strike from the top of the penalty area past goalkeeper Julio Cesar.
But de Guzman gave back that goal seven minutes later with a lazy back pass that never made it to his goalkeeper. Robinho seized the slowing ball, then used his conspicuous red shoes to casually dribble around goalkeeper Pat Onstad and push the ball into the net to put Brazil back up 3-2. Robinho sucked his thumb as the relieved crowd seem to sigh and roar simultaneously.
Robinho felt fortunate his team still has two weeks before qualifying for the 2010 World Cup resumes on June 14 at Paraguay. Brazil then hosts archrival Argentina, the top-ranked team in the world, in another qualifier June 18. Kaka could be back for those latter two games.
The final tuneup for those qualifiers is Friday in Foxborough, Mass., against Venezuela.
"We are not in top physical form, but the quality of each player can improve," said Robinho, easily the match's most dynamic player. "We have one week to improve before the qualifying games."
Canada nearly tied the game twice late. Star Dwayne De Rosario, who plays for Houston of MLS and has been demanding for years that his national team play games like this against world powers to accelerate its improvement, had an open chance inside the penalty area in the 80th minute. But his rushed shot sailed far over the crossbar and into the second deck of seats.
And in the 84th minute, Tam Nsaliwa dribbled between three Brazilian defenders to get open about 20 yards in front of the goal. But his shot hit the outside of the net.
"We were able to have them chase us a little bit and play their own game against them," De Rosario said. "Probably frustrated them a little bit.
"The effort was definitely first class."
Canada, which hasn't qualified for the World Cup since 1986, its only appearance, plays St. Vincent and the Grenadines in a home-and-home series June 15 and 20, with the second game in Montreal.
"We are going to have to worry about a letdown," Canada coach Dale Mitchell said. "Whenever you get a chance to play Brazil, it's a special occasion anyway. Our players will remember this forever."
The teams traded goals in the first 10 minutes of a freewheeling first half. Robinho dribbled the ball through two defenders and gave a perfect pass in front that Diego drilled into the back of the net from 15 yards away in the fourth minute to make it 1-0.
Canadian defender Mike Klukowski answered with a 50-yard pass for which Rob Friend out-jumped Cesar in the penalty area. Friend's header tied the game.
Canada controlled play for most of the remainder of the half. Issey Nakajima-Farran had a breakaway and Cesar sprawling on the turf. But he plopped his shot wide toward a red-and-white "Super Canucks" sign instead of the goal. De Rosario had his open shot from 20 yards out poked away by Cesar in the 42nd minute.
Three minutes later, Robinho created again for Brazil. He perfectly led Gilberto with a sideline pass that Gilberto quickly turned into a centering feed to Luis Fabiano. Fabiano bulled past Richard Hastings and headed the ball through the arms of Onstad to give Brazil a 2-1 lead that could easily have been a stunning deficit at halftime.