U.S. Women’s National Team defeats Marta-less Brazil 3-0 in Chiba, Japan in Kirin Challenge Cup
The U.S. Women’s National Team scored on three set plays to defeat Brazil 3-0 in its second and final match of the Kirin Challenge Cup in a game that kicked off four hours earlier than previously scheduled due to inclement weather.
“Playing against Brazil is always good,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. “I think in the first half the speed of play was good and we scored two good goals on set pieces, which is something we talk about and prepare the team for. At halftime, we made some changes because we wanted some players to get some minutes against a very good team. Overall, I am happy with the tournament. Playing Japan and Brazil in April as preparation for the Olympics is very good for this team.”
Four hours before the scheduled start of the match, the U.S. team was informed that the kickoff was changed from 8 p.m. to 4 p.m. local (7 a.m. to 3 a.m. ET) to avoid the heavy rains and high winds that were forecast to hit the Chiba area. The decision by the Japanese Football Association turned out to be a good one as the wind and rain that swirled around the stadium during the match picked up severely in intensity during the evening.
Due to the adjusted kickoff time, the game was played in front of only a smattering of fans as rain came down in sheets during warm-ups. The match itself featured howling winds and intermittent showers, but the playing surface held up perfectly and both teams handled the windy conditions well. In fact, the adversity of the weather and the change in kickoff didn’t seem to impact the U.S. team as it put together an excellent first half that included goals from Carli Lloyd and Shannon Boxx just five minutes apart.
The USA started strong as just under a minute into the match Abby Wambach struck a sliding shot that clipped the top of the crossbar after she battled several defenders to dig out a Heather O’Reilly cross in the center of the penalty area.
The USA controlled the tempo of the game in the first half and created a handful of good scoring chances from the run of play, but the goals came from free kicks.
The first was in the 18th minute when Wambach, who endured her usual rough treatment from the Brazilian center backs, was bowled over from behind near midfield. U.S. captain Christie Rampone then sent the free kick deep into the penalty area. Battling in a pack of players in the penalty area, the ball hit the back of defender Rachel Buehler’s heel and rolled into the path of Lloyd at the right post. She finished from close range into the right side of the net to make it 1-0.
In the 23rd minute it was Lauren Cheney who struck the free kick after Lloyd had been fouled on the right wing about 10 yards outside the penalty area. Cheney hit a fantastic high cross that traveled all the way to the far post where Boxx rose up to head it home from three yards out, sending her shot low into the corner. Brazilian goalkeeper Barbara made a play for the ball, but could not turn it away.
It was the first goal for Boxx since March 7, 2011, when she scored against Finland at the Algarve Cup in Portugal and the 23rd of her career.
Brazil seemingly pulled a goal back in the 30th minute as a rare foray into the USA’s defensive third saw Formiga send in a cross from the end line on the right side, but the ball swerved out of bounds before coming back into the field of play. Cristiane’s header into the right corner was waved off and the Americans were given a goal kick.
The USA had two good chances to increase its lead before halftime. In the 33rd minute another Rampone free kick found the head of Wambach who was behind the Brazilian defense deep into the penalty area, but she could not turn her flicked shot on goal and it skidded wide left.
Wambach played provider in the 41st minute after a fantastic series of short passes ended with Wambach lifting a pass to O’Reilly who had made a nice run up the middle. Barbara came out quickly and blocked O’Reilly’s one-on-one chance inside the penalty area.
Brazil, which played without superstar and five-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year Marta, struggled on the offensive end for most of the match. In the end, Brazil put just one shot on goal, that coming in stoppage time of the second half when U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo had to tip a long drive over the crossbar.
Still, the Brazilians played better after the break and in the 48th minute halftime substitute Grazielle got a chance inside the box only to shank her shot despite her unimpeded look at Solo’s goal.
The USA could have had a another goal off a free kick after forward Alex Morgan buried a header in the 68th minute, but the assistant referee ruled that a U.S. player was in an offside position when Stephanie Cox drove her service into the penalty area. Morgan appeared to come from an onside position, but unlike against Japan two days ago when her goal that was initially ruled offside was then given, this score did not stand.
Rodriguez replaced Morgan in the 71st minute and her speed menaced Brazil’s backs for the rest of the way. In the 83rd minute Rodriguez was dragged down by Daiane as she tried to burst past the defensive line and the Americans were awarded a free kick, which led to the clinching third goal.
Cheney sent the long free kick into the penalty box where Wambach brought it down with her chest. The ball bounced off Wambach, hit off a defender and rolled into the path of Rodriguez, who smashed a nine-yard shot off another defender with the deflection ending up in the right side of the net.
Additional Match Notes:
This was the first meeting between the two teams since the historic quarterfinal match at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup that saw the latest goal in World Cup history from Abby Wambach and the dramatic penalty kick triumph for the Americans.
The USA upped its record to 10-1-1 on the year and will return to action next on May 27 against China at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET.
U.S. defender Stephanie Cox, who came on in the 32nd minute, celebrated her 26th birthday Tuesday.
The goal for Carli Lloyd was her 36th international score.
The goal for Amy Rodriguez was her 24th international score.
Nine Brazil players who featured in the 2011 Women’s World Cup match played Tuesday while the USA used 13 who saw action in that match.
The margin of victory was the largest for the USA over Brazil in the last 10 matches, dating back to 2004 when the Americans down Brazil 5-1 in Birmingham, Ala.
– U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report –
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Brazil
Date: April 3, 2012
Competition: Women’s Kirin Challenge Cup
Venue: Fukuda Denshi Arena; Chiba, Japan
Kickoff: 4 p.m. local / 3 a.m. ET (Moved from 8 p.m. local due to inclement weather)
Weather: 61 degrees, rainy, windy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 1 3
BRA 0 0 0
USA – Carli Lloyd (Rachel Buehler) 18th minute
USA – Shannon Boxx (Lauren Cheney) 23
USA – Amy Rodriguez 83
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 6-Amy LePeilbet (14-Stephanie Cox, 32), 3-Christie Rampone (capt.) (4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 46), 19-Rachel Buehler, 5-Kelley O’Hara (2-Heather Mitts, 83); 12-Lauren Cheney, 7-Shannon Boxx, 10-Carli Lloyd (17-Tobin Heath, 62), 9-Heather O’Reilly (15-Megan Rapinoe, 46), 13-Alex Morgan (8-Amy Rodriguez, 71), 20-Abby Wambach
Subs not used: 16-Lori Lindsey, 11-Sydney Leroux, 18-Nicole Barnhart, 21-Ashlyn Harris, 23-Meghan Klingenberg
Head coach: Pia Sundhage
BRA: 12-Barbara; 6-Maurine, 4-Daiane, 5-Erika, 20-Daniele; 7-Ester (13-Beatriz, 88), 8-Formiga (3-Aline, 46), 17-Francielle; 15-Thais (16-Grazielle, 46), 18-Rosana (19-Maria, 78), 11-Cristiane
Subs not used: 1-Andrei, 9-Renata, 21-Gabriele
Head coach: Jorge Barcellos
Statistical Summary: USA / BRA
Shots: 11 / 7
Shots on Goal: 4 / 1
Saves: 1 / 1
Corner Kicks: 1 / 3
Fouls: 8 / 17
Offside: 5 / 4
USA – Rachel Buehler (caution) 77th minute
BRA – Ester (caution) 82
Referee: Sachiko Yamagishi (JPN)
Assistant Referee 1: Emi Chiba (JPN)
Assistant Referee 2: Makoto Bouzono (JPN)
Fourth Official: Etsuko Fukano (JPN)
Bud Light Woman of the Match: Rachel Buehler