When Brazil took an early 1-0 lead off an own goal Thursday night in the final game of the Tournament of Nations, the U.S. women’s soccer players knew their task to win the title got that much harder.
Needing to win by two goals to take the trophy, the U.S. roared back, topping Brazil 4-1 Thursday night at Toyota Park outside Chicago. Australia and the U.S. finished even on seven points, but the Americans passed the Matildas on goal difference at plus-3 to win via tiebreaker. It is the first Tournament of Nations title for the United States, which finished second to Australia last year at the inaugural tournament.
A poor clearance attempt by Tierna Davidson wound up in the back of the U.S. net, and the Americans found themselves behind in the 16th minute despite having most of the chances. They finally broke through via Rose Lavelle, whose rocket off the half-volley tied the match in the 33rd minute. The U.S. had a penalty shout in stoppage time of the first half as Megan Rapinoe was brought down in the box, but it went for naught as the teams went into the locker rooms tied.
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The U.S. came out strong in the second half and took the lead in the 53rd minute. Tobin Heath cut the ball back across goal to find a sliding Julie Ertz for a 2-1 lead. The game opened up after that, and Brazil missed a wide-open net on a 2-on-1 attack in the 55th minute. Six minutes later, Heath herself got on the score sheet as the ball rolled to her at the top of the box and she beat the keeper with a roller to the far post.
Alex Morgan then put the game away with her 90th international goal, and 17th in her last 18 games, in the 77th minute. It was her fourth goal of the tournament, which led all scorers.
The U.S. also kept its unbeaten streak alive, having now gone 16-0-3 since its last loss a year ago in the Tournament of Nations to Australia. The trophy is the second of the year for the U.S. women following the SheBelieves Cup title they won in March. After a pair of friendlies against Chile, the U.S. will focus in earnest on the CONCACAF Women’s Championship in October, serving as the confederation’s qualifier for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.