The United States Women’s National Team improved to 17-0-2 at home against Brazil but it was far from easy. The Yanks squandered multiple golden opportunities, made critical mistakes at the back, and sometimes looked just plain lost in falling behind, 3-1 in the 78th minute in their second Tournament of Nations match. But the resilient U.S. side scored three goals in a nine-minute span to storm back and get its first win over a top-10-ranked FIFA team at home in the last four tries.
Sam Mewis, Christen Press, Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz scored for the USWNT, to offset a pair of Andressinha goals and a strike from Bruna Benites off a Marta assist on a corner kick. For Press and Rapinoe, it was the chance to break out of a slump. Press had scored only one goal in her previous eight matches and Rapinoe hadn’t scored in 18 international games.
Jill Ellis sent out a starting XI with Alyssa Naeher in goal; a back line of (L-R) Kelley O’Hara, Abby Dahlkemper, Casey Short, and Taylor Smith; a midfield of Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Mewis; and an attacking line of Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Crystal Dunn. Marta and Monica of the Pride started for the Brazilians, with Camila on the bench.
It didn’t take long for the United States to fall behind the Canarinhas. Just two minutes into the match, Andressinha tried a long-range shot that hit Naeher in the hands, but the Chicago Red Stars keeper muffed the shot and her howler landed over the goal line for a 1-0 Brazil lead.
Just one minute later it appeared the U.S. would get a chance to equalize from the penalty spot when Sauerbrunn was kicked in the head by a high boot. Instead of a penalty, however, the referee awarded an indirect free kick. Rapinoe had a shot blocked and two subsequent rebounded attempts were blocked before the Brazilians finally cleared.
Rapinoe got onto a deflected cross in the left side of the box in the 14th minute but her shot was wide of goal, as the USWNT’s lack of sharpness continued. Moments later, a soft back pass from Dahlkemper had Naeher scrambling to clear it to keep it away from the pressing Marta.
However, the equalizer came in the 18th minute. Sam Mewis tried her luck with a blast fom outside the box and it took a deflection off of Benites and eluded Barbara to make it 1-1.
Minutes after the Mewis goal, Marta curled a back post cross to Gabi Nunes, who couldn’t quite get onto it. Nunes was injured on the play and was forced off at 22’, with Camila replacing her for Brazil.
Morgan earned the U.S. a free kick in a good spot in the 27th minute — although in truth it was a soft foul call on Monica. Rapinoe took the free kick and got her shot on goal but Barbara made the save. A minute later, the U.S. squandered a good chance when Dunn got into the top of the box and laid off a pass for no one in particular, allowing the Brazilian defense to easily collect.
In the 31st minute, the Canarinhas had it in the net again but a foul was called for bumping Naeher, who had spilled the ball. Naeher appeared to lose the ball while still in the air and before the bump, but you still can’t run into the keeper and the foul call denied Brazil a 2-1 lead for the time being.
The U.S. wasted a pair of good opportunities on the break minutes later, with Mewis making a mess of a cross in the 37th minute and Morgan doing the same in the 39th. The teams went into halftime deadlocked at 1-1 but either side could easily have led.
Ellis’ side continued to waste chances through much of the second half. Just a minute in, Rapinoe put a corner cross onto Lloyd’s head but Carli nodded it off target and with little pace. A minute later, Rapinoe made a nice run through the Brazilian defense but couldn’t beat Barbara from the top of the box.
Brazil then came into the game a bit as the American defense struggled for a period. Camila was given too much room but fired her shot over the bar from outside the box. Moments later, Andressinha had a go but her drive was just wide.
Rapinoe got down the left and gave second-half sub Mallory Pugh a layup in the 60th minute with a fizzed cross to the top of the six-yard box, but the young U.S. attacker hit the shot off her shin and well over the bar from point-blank range. That miss proved costly.
Just three minutes later, Benites got onto a superb Marta cross on a corner kick at the back post and slotted it home to make it 2-1. Marta had earned the corner herself with an attacking run and cross that was knocked behind by Short. Bruna was completely unmarked on the back post on the corner kick.
Julie Ertz tried to pull that goal back in the 65th minute, getting a header on a set piece but she didn’t make good contact and her effort trickled in to Barbara. A minute later, Bia Zaneratto nearly made it a two-goal lead with a shot just wide that had Naeher scrambling.
In the 69th, the U.S. should have equalized. Christen Press made a gorgeous long pass across the field to send Pugh in alone but her shot was stopped by Barbara. The Brazilian keeper then recovered quickly to deny Press on a diving stop off the rebound. In the 76th minute, Press had a free header on O’Hara’s pinpoint cross but knocked it well over the bar and it just didn’t look like the Yanks’ day.
Two minutes later, Brazil appeared to stick the dagger in for the killing stroke. O’Hara fouled Marta just outside the box, setting up a free kick. Andressinha took the set piece and delivered a marvelous strike that Naeher had no chance to stop.
The 3-1 lead with 12 minutes to play seemed insurmountable the way the breaks were going throughout the match, but Press and Rapinoe dragged the United States back into it.
Press got the ball in a good spot on the left side of the box in the 80th minute and curled in a shot that Barbara got a hand on but couldn’t keep out. The U.S. was quickly back within a goal with 10 minutes left to play.
Naeher made a vital save in the 82nd minute on Marta from close range but at a difficult angle. That kept the deficit at one goal and allowed the Yanks to level things shortly thereafter. Press picked out Rapinoe with another stellar cross and the Seattle Reign star brought it down with a terrific first touch. She then blasted a near-post shot in the 85th that was too hot for Barbara to handle, although the keeper again got a hand on it. With five minutes remaining the sides were level again.
Four minutes later, the U.S. was improbably ahead. After a corner, Rapinoe set O’Hara down the right flank with a perfect pass and the defender whipped in a cross that hit off Barbara’s hands and deflected off Lloyd before falling for Ertz, who simply hit the ball as hard as she could. It found the back of the net and the comeback was all but complete.
Brazil had one more chance to draw level again on a corner kick that Naeher went up into traffic to catch. Once again the U.S. keeper nearly spilled it but she managed to recover it while on the ground and got the whistle. From there, the U.S. saw out the remaining seconds of the match.
The U.S. moved to second in the Tournament of Nations standings, on three points — three behind Australia. The loss puts Brazil on just one point after two matches, along with Japan. Both Brazil and Japan are eliminated from contention in the tournament. Australia needs only a draw to clinch, while the United States needs to beat Japan and get some help from Brazil on Aug. 3 at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA.
The USWNT can only win if it beats Japan by enough to win the goal differential tiebreaker over Australia or pull level on goal differential but score more total goals, so the Yanks have some ground to make up.
Australia 4, Japan 2
In the early game, Sam Kerr led the Matildas to their second victory in two Tournament of Nations matches. It’s been a heck of a year for Kerr, who scored her first international hat trick just days after doing so in NWSL play.
All of Kerr’s goals came in the first half, including this one, which gave her three on the day.
The Aussies led 3-1 at the half and Japan pulled one back late for the final score. Orlando Pride players Steph Catley and Alanna Kennedy both started for the Matildas, while former Pride players Laura Alleway and Lisa De Vanna were on the bench.