It was their first truly competitive Victory Tour match since the World Cup final over three months ago, Seattle Reign stars Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, and the rest of the U.S. Women's National Team had to rely on some last-minute magic to earn a 1-1 draw against Brazil.
In front of 23,603 fans at CenturyLink FIeld, an 85th minute Carli Lloyd goal ensured the USWNT saved their now 101-game undefeated streak on home soil. That's good for an 88-0-13 record that begins in November of 2004. But it certainly wasn't easy.
Brazil brought most of its stars, including five-time FIFA Player of the Year Marta, and they were in true Brazilian form — a combination of one-touch backheels, fancy stepovers, theatrical falls to the turf, and speed.
The style worked for them early on, as Brazil went ahead in the 3rd minute off a corner kick. Houston Dash player Andressinha sent a curling ball into the box. Hope Solo looked as if she wanted to come out to collect it, but hesitated, giving Brazil's Monica enough time to out-muscle Becky Sauerbrunn and flick a header far post.
The U.S. had an immediate response, earning four corner kicks in 10 minutes and controlling much of the tempo. But they couldn't quite connect any set-piece plays, and a number of other good looks were ruled offside, as Brazil's backline was extremely disciplined. The most dangerous chance in the first 45 came from NWSL MVP Crystal Dunn, who whipped a cross into the box and found Alex Morgan, whose header rolled just past the far post.
The play got more frenzied at the start of the second half, with both teams struggling to maintain possession. It wasn't until the final 20 minutes that a goal seemed likely for the U.S. Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan both freed themselves for a few good looks, but were denied each time.
Then, in the 85th minute, Meghan Klingenberg fought off two Brazil defenders and played a great ball on the ground into the box. World Cup Golden Ball winner Carli Lloyd was there to hammer the ball past Brazil goalkeeper Luciana and into the roof of the net.
Lloyd had done it again, scoring her 17th goal for the year. And the U.S. streak lives another day.
Both teams now head to Orlando, new home to the 10th NWSL team, where they'll face each other again on Sunday. The U.S. will be without one of its World Cup stars for this match, as defensive midfielder Shannon Boxx played her final game for the U.S., donning the captain's armband in the first half.
As Boxx departs, U.S. coach Jill Ellis gave Western New York Flash defender Jaelene Hinkle her first cap for the United States, and midfielder Samantha Mewis her fourth. With the Olympics right around the corner, Ellis will use these next five Victory Tour matches to test players like Hinkle and Mewis, with the goal of earning another gold medal for the Red, White, and Blue.