Last week in the Tournament of Nations opener in Seattle, head coach Jill Ellis sent out a B-team that — outside of Megan Rapinoe, who was her usual creative and dangerous self playing in front of her home crowd — looked uninspired and toothless against a game Australia side. The Matildas had one great chance on a turf bounce off of a bad clearance and took it well to take a 1-0 lead late in the match. Ellis took full advantage of the 6-subs rule and got most of her A-team into the match, subbing on Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Crystal Dunn, Morgan Brian, and Kelley O’Hara. But despite a few good chances, they weren’t able to make up the deficit and the US fell, finishing the day at the bottom of the four team standings.
Once, not long ago, the US was riding a 104-game home unbeaten streak. Now less than two years later they’ve lost 3 of their last 5 matches on American soil. On the one hand, it’s the right time to experiment, coming off of a World Cup title and needing to rotate to a new generation of players. On the other, the experiments should be a little more successful for the #1 team in the world.
Now the US looks to get back on track and save their tournament chances in San Diego against Brazil, who drew Japan 1-1 in their tournament opener. A Seleção is still the Marta show, but she has a strong supporting cast. Half the starting lineup plays in NWSL, and it was a long range bomb from the Orlando Pride’s Camila that earned them their point in Seattle.
But this is a team that even the US B-team should be able to punish in defense. And if Ellis decides to end the experimentation early to get back to focusing on winning, the US A-team should run rampant. The last time the two teams met was in late 2015, and the US won 3-1.
The final round is in Carson on August 3, and for the US to have any chance of playing for the trophy when they take on Japan there, they need three points tonight.
How to Watch
USA v. Brazil
Date/Time: Sunday, 5:00 PM PT
Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, Calif.