Kirin Challenge Cup Recap: United States Women's National Team vs. Brazil
The game was moved up four hours due to impending weather. Brazil had few chances, without Marta, to get on the board as the first half of action belonged to the US.
During the first minute of action Wambach quickly took a shot that went off the bar. And that was followed by an eighth-minute cross by Kelley O’Hara that the USWNT could not get a clean hit on. The early goings of the match saw a lot of US possession.
In the 15th minute of action Lauren Cheney took a free kick that missed the mark, and Carli Lloyd took a shot in the 16th minute that sailed high. The chances were plentiful with an uninspired defensive performance by Brazil. In the 18th minute the US were ready for another set piece. Christie Rampone took it and placed it in the box where it was deflected right in front of Lloyd, who cleaned up the mess to put the Women’s National Team out in front.
Brazil finally got a chance in the 22nd minute, but the cross was too wide and the defense was able to clear.
A minute later Cheney took a free kick that found the mark, and Shannon Boxx headed it in to put the US up 2-0.
Brazil started to get more opportunities but were unable to convert. Rosana took a shot that nearly was enough to get Brazil on the board but went too far to the right. In the 30th minute Formiga crossed the ball to Cristiane who sunk it behind Solo, but it was taken away as the ball curved over the end-line on the cross.
The US got back on the offensive but could not put another one in before the end of the half. Heather O’Reilly will want her attempt back from the 41st minute, when she received a nice pass from Wambach but kicked it straight toward the keeper. It was a much better half for the US than what they mustered against Japan just two days ago.
The US made two substitions to start the second half: Becky Sauerbrunn for Rampone and Megan Rapinoe for O’ Reilly (Stephanie Cox replaced Amy LePeilbet in the first half).
The second half was mostly uneventful. Both sides had few chances and exchanged possession. And the substitutions kept coming, as Head Coach Pia Sundhage is looking to finalize her Olympic roster. Tobin Heath came in for Lloyd in the 61st minute and Amy Rodriguez replaced Alex Morgan in the 71st.
The 78th minute saw Megan Rapinoe hit a laser that was touched by the keeper and still managed to deflect off the crossbar afterwards. In the 82nd minute Cheney took a free kick for the US, and similarly to the Carli Lloyd goal, it was deflected and ended up at the feet of Rodriguez for the goal.
The game came to a close with a final of 3-0. It was a much better game played by the US with cleaner passes and more possession. The USWNT will return stateside for a few more friendlies prior to the Olympic games. Some questions still need to be answered. Who will be cut to make the roster limit? Will the US stick with the 4-4-2 formation for the Olympics?
But the Americans will leave Japan with two solid results against top level competition.
The Kirin Challenge Cup is in the bag for the US. London is almost in sight.
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