Connect with us


USWNT beats Brazil 1-0, takes 2nd in SheBelieves Cup

United States' Tobin Heath, second from right, is congratulated on her goal by Mallory Pugh (11), Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan (13) during the first half of a SheBelieves Cup soccer match against Brazil Tuesday, March 5, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

TAMPA, Fla. — No trophy was on the line, but the United States women’s national team still needed three points and still needed to show it could learn from mistakes as the 2019 World Cup draws near. 

Tobin Heath helped that quest by scoring for the USWNT in a 1-0 victory over Brazil to close out the SheBelieves Cup Tuesday night at Raymond James Stadium.

The victory placed the U.S. (1-0-2, 5 points) second in the four-team international tournament. England (2-0-1, 7 points) won it all by defeating third-place Japan (1-1-1, 4 points) earlier in the night and Brazil (0-3-0, 0 points) finished last.

“I’ve already come out of this tournament with less question marks now because of the takeaways in terms of personnel and different things that we’ve seen, and that feels good,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said during the postgame news conference. “Obviously, you want to lift that trophy, 100 percent. You want to win every game, but now it’s going in with even more clarity, and that’s a positive.”

Though defensive issues remained, the U.S. — especially goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris — responded to Ellis’ request for a clean sheet, which allowed for the powerful attack to, well, attack.

A couple immediate U.S. runs on goal after kickoff got the crowd going. The announced 14,009 in attendance, a Tampa record for the USWNT, roared in approval when it appeared Megan Rapinoe scored in the 13th minute. Alex Morgan sent a through-ball forward to Heath, who immediately kicked it to Rapinoe for a goal negated by an offside call.

The U.S. prepared for quick counterattacks from Brazil, but during the first half the quickest counters came from the United States. Heath, Morgan and Rapinoe routinely raced down the field and got behind Brazil’s line. 

One of those runs ended with a celebration in the 20th minute. Heath, who frequently found space on the right flank, raced the length of the field with the ball and crossed it to a wide-open Morgan, who had only Brazil goalkeeper Aline to beat. Morgan’s would-be 100th U.S. goal went straight into Aline’s chest, but the keeper couldn’t hold onto it and the ball bounced back to Heath, who rocketed a shot into the net from the top of the box.

The U.S. continues to create and find its way into Brazil’s final third throughout the match, but the finishes didn’t come. 

“I think there are a lot of takeaways, a lot of things that we can kind of learn and grow from,” Heath said after the match. “I think on the defensive front, it’s like kind of eliminating errors, figuring out how we concede goals, why we concede goal and fixing those things. . . . And then on the attacking front, it’s just converting — that final piece of the final pass, the final finish.

“We’re getting so many awesome opportunities, we’re getting to the final third so much, which are all such positives, and then it’s just that final piece. And that’s where we’re at right now, and that’s not a bad place to be. I think the games the greatest teacher, and there’s a lot we can learn from this tournament.”

Ellis made a few changes to the lineup against Brazil. Midfielder Samantha Mewis started instead of Rose Lavelle, who nursed a knee injury. Mewis’ physical presence gave a boost to the U.S., and she was selected as the player of the match by U.S. Soccer. Becky Sauerbrunn lined up in central midfield instead of Tierna Davidson. And Satellite Beach, Fla., native Harris started in goal with Alyssa Naeher still injured.

Harris, playing in front of at least 20 members of her family, made big saves late in the game to preserve the shutout. Three of those came in the final 20 minutes of the match, including an 81st-minute save, when Marta, the reigning Best FIFA Women’s Player and Harris’ Orlando Pride teammate, whipped a free kick toward the lower right corner of the net. Harris got low to thwart the attempt. Harris raced off her line seven minutes later to halt and attack. She successfully beat the attacker, fell on the ball and got up with a smirk.

“For me, it’s just about making things look easy,” Harris said. “I want my teammates to feel the utmost confidence with any three of us goalkeepers in that goal. I think we have an incredible goalkeeper unit. At any moment, any of us can step in and have big performances and play big games and have big impacts. It’s a collective effort every day. We work our tails off every single day, and only one gets to play. And that’s difficult.

“So, I’m proud I put in a good performance, but I also spend countless moments preparing for moments like these.”

The U.S. continues its road to the 2019 World Cup, which begins June 7 in France, with two April friendlies against Australia and Belgium in Commerce City, Colo., and Los Angeles, respectively.  


61′ — Brazil’s Beatriz was stretchered off the field after taking a hard hit. Ludmila replaced her.

Key plays

2′ — Apparent missed penalty call when Brazil’s Thaisa took down Mallory Pugh from behind in the box. Pugh hit the ground hard. 

20′ Tobin Heath’s opening goal for the United States.

One of multiple late Ashlyn Harris saves.










NWSL Schedule/Results


NWSL standings





NWSL Calendar

January 2020

More in NWSL