The United States ran its home unbeaten streak to 102 consecutive games with a 3-1 victory over Brazil at the Citrus Bowl. A crowd of 32,869 -- the largest crowd ever to see a stand-alone USWNT friendly match in the state of Florida -- were privileged to see the final games in the careers of Lauren Holiday and Lori Chalupny. The pair went out winners and were honored on the field before and after the match.
Forward Alex Morgan perhaps showed a sign of things to come with her goal to open the scoring just nine minutes into the match. Tobin Heath played a wonderful through ball around the defense and sent Morgan in alone. The probable future Orlando Pride striker got around goalkeeper Luciana and slotted a left-footed shot home to put the Americans ahead early.
The crowd couldn't have been more boisterous in their applause for Morgan -- a very popular star Orlando fans have already embraced. With the Pride probably announcing her acquisition tomorrow, the home fans showed their love a day early.
In truth, Brazil controlled much of the first half, forcing numerous turnovers, errant passes and blind clearances with constant high pressure. Morgan's goal came on the first U.S. chance of any kind, and the Americans wouldn't look very dangerous through most of the half.
Cristiane had a sitter that she somehow put over the bar from just a couple yards off the goal line off a beautiful feed in the 35th minute, less than 10 minutes after her tap-in opportunity was cleared off the line on a sparkling defensive play by Becky Sauerbrunn -- but it was for naught as the play would have been offside anyway on the pass from Marta to Tamires.
Brazil finally broke through just before the half, when Marta's fizzing cross found Cristiane, who made no mistake. The stoppage time deadlock didn't last long, as Crystal Dunn put the hosts back on top before the halftime whistle. Meghan Klingenberg sent a wicked cross into the box that Lindsey Horan headed on net. The shot was blocked and fell straight to Dunn, who slotted home through the traffic.
The second half again saw Brazil with more of the possession and dangerous chances. Horan had the first good chance at 53' when she got a free header off a corner but sent it straight at Luciana. The U.S. appeared to extend the lead to 3-1 when Morgan took a Carli Lloyd through ball and beat the keeper, only to be flagged for offside on a very close play.
Andressinha had a couple of chances from above the box go just wide for the visitors. Brazil's best opportunity came in the 64th minute, when Marta shook free and sent a shot on target, forcing a diving save from Hope Solo.
Andressa Alves sent a free kick just over the bar in the 71st and Cristiane sent a Marta cross straight at Solo in the 77th, in what would be Brazil's last good chance to tie the game.
Morgan missed a wide open net in the 90th minute, shooting high but Stephanie McCaffrey made the most of her first career cap, connecting on a Megan Rapinoe cross and tapping home to become the 18th USWNT player to score on her debut. She was the first to do so since Christen Press accomplished the feat on Feb. 9, 2013.
The city of Orlando embraced the USWNT and seems to be embracing women's soccer in general, as Orlando City/Pride Founder and Owner Phil Rawlins announced at halftime to the media that the Pride season ticket presale surpassed 1,300. Rawlins said the presale was better than the MLS team's at the same stage.
Pride season tickets are now on sale to the general public. With tomorrow's announcement, perhaps fans will be purchasing a ticket to see Alex Morgan.