Australia came within minutes of getting a second straight win over the United States Women’s National Team but Lindsey Horan’s header in the 90th minute equalized in a 1-1 Tournament of Nations thriller in front of an announced crowd of 21,570 at Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford, CT. The USWNT nearly lost for the second consecutive time against Australia but instead rescued a point and kept its unbeaten 2018 run alive.
The U.S. increased its unbeaten streak to 18 games — a run that dates back to last year’s 1-0 ToN loss to Australia. The Yanks and Matildas are now 1-0-1 in the competition with four points apiece, just one point ahead of third-place Brazil.
Jill Ellis made only two changes from Thursday’s match, switching Tobin Heath in at right wing for Christen Press and Becky Sauerbrunn at center back for Tierna Davidson. Orlando’s Alex Morgan started up top with the captain’s armband. Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris was in the 18.
Both the Orlando Pride’s Australian internationals — Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond got the start for the Matildas. Kennedy was Australia’s left center back, with van Egmond playing on the left side of the midfield in a 4-3-3. Former Pride striker Lisa De Vanna also started, while former Orlando defender Laura Alleway was on the bench.
The Australians, feeling confident after winning this fixture last year, came out playing very physically, with some crunching tackles on Morgan and Heath early. The U.S. responded in kind, making for a chippy start to the game.
The first good opportunity nearly fell for Australia four minutes in but a shot from near the top of the area was blocked. A minute later, Heath sent a high header toward goal that Aussie keeper Lydia Williams grabbed in the air just before Morgan could arrive and nod it home.
Nine minutes in, Morgan sent a cross from the right flank through the box for Horan. The midfielder cut inside on her right foot and fired, but the shot was blocked by Clare Polkinghorne, then nearly deflected off Kennedy for an own-goal, missing the post by a couple of feet.
The first good look at goal came in the 17th minute when Morgan sent Megan Rapinoe in behind the Australian defense with a good through ball. Rapinoe had time and space but fired well wide of the right post on a shot she would normally put away. A minute later, Heath fired wide from the top of the box, then Morgan nearly got in cleanly on a quick throw-in from Rapinoe but her first touch let her down and Williams collected.
The U.S. continued to win set pieces, with a couple of corners and a free kick won by Morgan. The pressure didn’t help the U.S., as the Aussies ended up scoring the opener on the counter attack. Rapinoe took a short corner kick and got it right back. Her subsequent delivery into the box was too low and was headed out to De Vanna, who put a move on Sauerbrunn and raced downfield. With Abby Dahlkemper trying to close her down, De Vanna put in a perfect ball for Chloe Logarzo, who was 1-v-1 with Alyssa Naeher with tons of space. She calmly slotted one just inside the near post to put the Matildas ahead in the 22nd minute, 1-0.
The Yanks tried to hit back right away, sending Heath down the right flank but she sent in either a poor shot or a poor cross in the 25th minute and it sailed out for a goal kick. After that, the next 12 minutes or so were played in the middle of the pitch with a series of fouls and turnovers by both teams.
The U.S. got back onto the front foot after that, with Rapinoe sending in a dangerous curling cross that the back line nodded away in the 38th minute. A minute after that, a through ball ended up splitting the distance between Heath and Morgan and found only the goalkeeper. Then Julie Ertz hit her shot poorly from the top of the box and Williams caught the pop-up.
Morgan nearly got into the area in the 43rd minute but the flag came up, though replay showed it was an error by the assistant referee.
Australia got two of the last three efforts toward goal as De Vanna sent a volley wide of the target in the 45th and then Tameka Butt fired just wide from the top of the area in the third minute of stoppage time. In between those two chances was a Rapinoe knuckleball that handcuffed Williams a bit but the Aussie goalkeeper was able to recover before any U.S. players could arrive.
The Aussies took their 1-0 lead into the break. It was a half that Rapinoe would probably like to forget, with a series of poor touches in traffic and inaccurate crosses. Crystal Dunn could not get forward to join in the attack. Heath was barely involved on the right. Australia’s midfield forced the U.S. into tight areas and then squeezed until the USWNT made mistakes.
The United States led in shots, 9-5 (4-1 on target), possession (64%), and corner kicks (3-1) after 45 minutes, but it was Australia with the advantage on the scoreboard, where it counts.
The U.S. played with more urgency in the second half but still struggled to put chances away or to connect with final crosses or passes.
Horan gave the Aussies a chance just seconds after the restart with a foul on Sam Kerr. Elise Kellond-Knight went for goal from at least 25 yards out on the free kick but fired wide. The U.S. answered by getting forward and sending a few crosses into the box but couldn’t connect and Rapinoe fired wide from the top of the area in the 53rd minute. Four minutes later, Horan had the ball with time and space at the top of the box but hit her shot poorly and it sailed well off target.
Morgan got under a header attempt in the 62nd minute and it sailed just over the bar. The U.S. continued getting crosses in, with Emily Sonnett hitting one just over Morgan’s head at the back post in the 63rd minute and Morgan nearly getting onto a corner kick in the 67th but she took a bump from the defense just before she could go up for her header and it threw off her timing.
Australia tried to hit back in the 68th with a Kerr shot that Naeher saved comfortably. Rapinoe answered in the 70th with a sneaky shot through traffic that Williams was able to stop with a diving effort and she left no rebound.
As time wound down, it looked more and more like Australia’s night as Morgan headed off target in the 74th and 89th minutes. But the U.S. kept winning corners and one finally paid off. Rapinoe saved her best service of the ninth for the 90th minute and found Horan on the back post. The Portland Thorns attacker got on top of the cross and headed it down and into the corner where Williams couldn’t reach it, leveling the game at 1-1.
Both teams pushed to try to find a winner in the five minutes of stoppage time but no one got a really good look. The teams finished the hard-fought contest locked up at 1-1 and with everything still to play for on Thursday.
The United States will finish the Tournament of Nations against Brazil on Thursday at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IL. Australia will play Japan. The tournament may come down to goal differential or subsequent tiebreakers.
Brazil Drops Japan, 2-1
Orlando Pride star Marta opened the scoring to lead Brazil to a 2-1 lead over Japan in Match Day 2 of the 2018 Tournament of Champions in the early match. She broke open a tense, scoreless match with a goal in the 76th minute to put the Brazilians on top. Beatriz added a second at the end of normal time before the Japanese pulled one back in the 93rd minute through Rika Masuya. Pride defender Monica also started for Brazil, with Camila and Poliana in the 18. Camila came on in the second half of the match. Here’s Marta’s goal:
The Brazilians, who lost their opener to Australia, are still in contention for the Tournament of Nations crown on three points, while Japan is eliminated after two losses.