Brazil returned to their brilliant best in Tshwane/Pretoria, cruising to a 3-0 win over USA and inching closer to the semi-finals of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. For the second game running, the Americans had a player sent off and Kaka, Robinho and Co were in no mood to take their foot off the accelerator as they strolled to their second straight win of these finals with goals from Felipe Melo, Robinho and Maicon.
Brazil came out flying and, with USA looking overwhelmed in the centre of the pitch, Michael Bradley was forced into a pair of early fouls in dangerous territory. The second proved costly, as Maicon's swerving free kick picked out Felipe Melo. The Fiorentina man slipped his marker and nodded home at the back post with only seven minutes gone.
It was an ominous start for the US, who never quite came to grips with their South American opponents, despite some positive work from Landon Donovan. Robinho was only just denied Brazil's second in the 12th minute thanks to a last-ditch lunge by Oguchi Onyewu. However, the big centre-half could do nothing in the 20th minute when a rare moment in attack for the US - their first corner kick of the game - turned into a nightmare.
Donovan's short corner rolled under DaMarcus Beasley's boot and straight to a yellow shirt. The counter-attack that followed was simply unstoppable, with Kaka picking out new man Ramires, who laid the ball across for Robinho. The Manchester City ace made no mistake from close range, poking wide of Tim Howard and into the net. With Brazil up 2-0 and in sparkling form, there seemed no way back for the Stars and Stripes, who were fortunate not to be down four or five as they returned to the changing rooms at half-time.
The second period saw USA coach Bob Bradley bring in towering forward Conor Casey to partner Jozy Altidore in attack. It hardly changed the established pattern of the match, Robinho testing Howard again in the 53d minute with a curving shot from a tight angle. Just seconds later, Kaka - in outstanding form - forced the Everton keeper into another sprawling stop from the edge of the box.
Things got even worse for USA in the 55th minute when midfielder Sacha Kljestan was sent off by Swiss referee Massimo Busacca for a lunge on Ramires. It was the second red card in as many games here in South Africa for the North Americans, and Maicon took full advantage. The Inter Milan wing-back roared through for Brazil's third goal seven minutes after the expulsion, slamming into the roof of the net after a sharp give-and-go with the incomparable Kaka to complete the rout.
The USA, who managed to rattle the crossbar late in the game, will need to wait on the result of the other Group B match, Egypt-Italy in Johannesburg later in the day, to know their fate. A win for the Azzurri would send them out, while an Egyptian win would keep dwindling hopes alive. Brazil, for their part, are in pole position to advance to the semis, but will also need to wait for the result of the night's match to be sure.