If there were any doubts of the impending change coming to the world champion United States women’s national team, Sunday put that to doubt.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis handed out first-time caps to three players on the same day which Lauren Holiday and Lori Chalupny played in their final international games, and the United States defeated Brazil, 3-1 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlanod, Fla., to extend its 11-year home unbeaten streak to 102 matches.
Alex Morgan and Crystal Dunn scored in the first half for the U.S., and Stephanie McCaffrey found net in second-half stoppage time to score in her first senior U.S. appearance. Cristiane scored for Brazil’s lone goal.
Morgan opened the scoring in the 9th minute, racing in behind Brazil’s defense to collect a through ball from Tobin Heath and calmly slot it into an empty net after touching the ball around on-rushing Brazil goalkeeper Luciana. Morgan’s goal came in Orlando, one day before she is expected to be revealed as NWSL expansion team Orlando Pride’s first player as part of a blockbuster trade with Portland Thorns FC.
Morgan’s goal came six minutes after Brazilian captain Marta hit the crossbar, marking the second straight match in which the U.S. defense was caught off guard on a corner kick int he opening minutes. The U.S. tied Brazil, 1-1 on Wednesday, conceding on a corner kick in the 3rd minute.
On Sunday, Marta hit the crossbar again in the 27th minute on a cross-turned-shot.
Brazil forward Cristiane also missed a pair of sitters in the first half. In the 24th minute, Marta sent a low cross to Cristiane at the back post and Cristiane failed to make clean contact, missing an open net as U.S. defender Becky Sauerbrunn cleared the ball away from goal. Cristiane missed from inside the six-yard box again in the 35th minute.
But Cristiane found the equalizer in first-half stoppage time, calmly finishing a left-footed shot after a tricky piece of dribbling from Marta to create the goal.
The Americans, however, had other ideas. One minute later, Crystal Dunn gave the U.S. the lead heading into halftime, burying her shot past Luciana after the goalkeeper made an initial brilliant save from point-blank range on Lindsey Horan.
Dunn, who was the last player cut from the U.S. team which went on to win the 2015 World Cup, started her fourth straight match on the victory tour. Horan started in her first match under head coach Jill Ellis.
McCaffrey joined defenders Emily Sonnett and Gina Lewandowski in appearing for the U.S. senior team for the first time on Sunday. Sonnett played the entire match at center back and Lewandowski came on in the 74th minute. McCaffrey entered the match at the start of the second half and scored in the final seconds of the match.
The U.S. women do not play again until Dec. 6 against Trinidad and Tobago in Honolulu, Hawaii.
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