USA Erases 3-1 Deficit in Last 10 Minutes, Beats Brazil in Tournament of Nations

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2017

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 30:  Kelley O'Hara #5, Megan Rapinhoe #15, and Becky Sauerbrunn #3 of the United States celebrate a goal against Brazil during the first half of a match in the 2017 Tournament of Nations at Qualcomm Stadium on July 30, 2017 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The United States women's soccer team overcame a 3-1 deficit in the final 10 minutes to beat Brazil, 4-3, in the 2017 Tournament of Nations on Sunday night at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

Christen Press began the comeback with a goal in the 80th minute, and Megan Rapinoe delivered an equalizer five minutes later. In the 89th minute, Julie Ertz pounced on a deflection to give the U.S. its first lead of the game.

The United States looked dead and buried after Andressinha gave Brazil a two-goal cushion in the 78th minute.

Press gave the U.S. some life in the 80th minute with a great individual effort to turn her defender around and fire a right-footed shot into the top left corner and past Brazilian goalkeeper Barbara.

Press then played a pivotal role in Rapinoe's goal, providing the assist for the Seattle Reign midfielder. The New York Times' Andrew Das thought the two players had taken it upon themselves to bring the United States back:

While Ertz's winner didn't match Press or Rapinoe's goals in terms of aesthetic beauty, the Chicago Red Stars defender was in the right place at the right time.

Nobody was happier to see her score than her husband, Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz:

The United States' response in the final 10-plus minutes was a complete 180 from how the team began the evening.

In its previous fixture, the U.S. women's national team fell 1-0 to Australia, who hadn't won any of the previous 27 matches against the U.S. Based on that, USWNT coach Jill Ellis likely wanted a strong response from her team to begin Sunday's match.

Instead, Brazil took a 1-0 lead in the second minute after Alyssa Naeher made a mess of an attempted save. Well outside the 18-yard box, Andressinha tried her luck from long range with a shot directly at the American goalkeeper. Naeher was unable to corral it, and the ball popped up and across the goal line.

Soccer journalist Caitlin Murray alluded to Naeher's relative inexperience at the international level:

Sam Mewis delivered an equalizer in the 18th minute. Her shot from outside the box took a deflection off Bruna Benites and bounced past a diving Barbara.

Benites exacted her revenge in the 63rd minute to put Brazil ahead, 2-1. No American defender was guarding the far post on a corner kick off the foot of Marta, which allowed the Houston Dash defender to sneak in unmarked for an easy finish.

Overturning a 3-1 deficit would be reason for excitement under any circumstance, but the USWNT's comeback was particularly encouraging since Ellis has used the 2017 Tournament of Nations as somewhat of a proving ground.

While Ellis has called upon a handful of marquee international stars for the event, she has also relied on players who are untested on the biggest stage to get them ready for the 2019 World Cup in France.

In the case of Naeher, the strategy backfired in a big way, and the defense as a whole looked like a unit that hadn't played together very much.

Rapinoe and Press, who have over 200 combined international caps between them, were the spark the U.S. needed late in the match.

Ellis will be satisfied with the win, but she'll likely want to see a more complete performance from her team when the United States concludes the Tournament of Nations on Thursday against Japan.

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