USWNT Grows Through Victory Tour Draw

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The United States Women’s National Team got the toughest test yet in their World Cup Victory Tour on Wednesday night in Hope Solo’s hometown of Seattle.

The USWNT won their first four Victory Tour matches by a combined score of 28-2, but Game 5 against Brazil presented a more more difficult challenge, and the U.S. squad needed a goal from Carli Lloyd in the 85th minute just to capture a 1-1 draw at CenturyLink Field. The result brought their Victory Tour record to 4-0-1.

Hope played all 90 minutes and registered five saves in a match that was just as tough as she expected it would be. Hope noted prior to the contest that Brazil would show the USWNT some of its areas of improvement to focus on, which should prove valuable for the National Team as they look ahead to next year’s Olympic Games.

“I think we’ll see our weaknesses in these Brazil games,” Hope said ahead of the third leg of the Victory Tour. “We haven’t been training a whole bunch leading up to every match. I think we’re just going to put our team out on the field and see the holes, see the gaps and then work on things for qualifying come January.”

The Brazilians found a hole early on. Andressinha took a corner kick in the third minute and sent an in-betweener curling into the box. Hope stepped up at first to attack the cross, but then quickly retreated to cover the near post. The ball found Monica’s head amid three U.S. defenders and glanced toward the back post and in, giving Brazil a 1-0 lead.

“Our back line was tested, our midfield was tested,” USWNT coach Jill Ellis said. “And that’s what we want in these games as we move forward. This could be our most competitive game leading up to qualifiers.”

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Hope and the defense settled in after conceding that early goal. and No. 1 turned away all five of Brazil’s remaining shots on frame. The USWNT attack also settled in as the game went on and finished with a 12-11 shot advantage.

Still Brazil maintained the advantage they’d established early through the first half. It looked like the Americans might break through just before the half when, in the 45th minute, Lloyd sent a low cross into Alex Morgan. The forward sent a shot at Brazilian keeper Luciana, but she was able to make the save.

The USWNT had their best chances of the night in the second half, including opportunities for Megan Rapinoe in the 69th minute, and another for Morgan in the 81st. But both chances went by the wayside.

However, the work of the Stars and Stripes attack was finally rewarded in the 85th minute. Defender Meghan Klingenberg, coming up the right flank into the attack, was able to pounce on a ball that was poorly cleared by the Brazilian defense. She took on three players, racing past them to the end line before sending a low cross in to Lloyd, who smashed into the back of the net for the equalizer. The goal was Lloyd’s seventh in her last three international matches.

After Lloyd’s goal, both teams held steady through the final minutes to end the match in a draw.

HONORING BOXXY

In addition to being a long-awaited homecoming for Hope, and a tough challenge for the USWNT against Brazil, Wednesday night’s game also marked the last USWNT appearance for American midfielder Shannon Boxx.

Boxx earned her 195th cap for the US Women’s National Team on Wednesday, the last in a career spanning 13 years with the USWNT, including four World Cup appearances and three Olympics. Over the course of those games Boxx, who wore a jersey with her married name “Spearman” on the back Wednesday, tallied 27 goals.

She was honored prior to kickoff, and made a speech thanking her teammates and fans after the game.

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While Hope and all of her teammates are sad to see their decorated teammate move on, they’re also excited about what is to come for the team.

On Wednesday night, Defender Jaelene Hinkle made her first cap, replacing Kelley O’Hara 71 minutes into the game. Two promising young players, Samantha Mewis and Crystal Dunn, were also featured in the match.

“Things are going to be very different,” Hope said. “You’re going to see some young players who have never made a major tournament roster make their first tournament roster going into Rio. It’s going to be filled with surprises, and I think that’s exciting for everybody.”

NEXT UP

The draw on Wednesday pushed the USWNT unbeaten streak to 101 consecutive games on their home soil.

They’ll look to keep it going when they host Brazil on the Victory Tour on Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

The game is slated to begin at 2:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.

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