On 11 March, the USWNT lifted the inaugural CONCACAF W Gold Cup trophy after defeating Brazil 1-0 in front of a sold-out home crowd at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego, California.

Following decisive group stage wins over the Dominican Republic (5-0) and Argentina (0-4), the USWNT were brutally defeated 0-2 by Mexico, a first loss for the home team in the Golden State.

They made a comeback in the quarter-final against Colombia, winning the intense game 3-0.

In their semi-final, the U.S. played Canada on a swimming pool, eventually winning on penalty kicks (3 scored 1 conceded), and secured their ticket to the final.

Brazil, on the other hand, secured three wins and three clean sheets over Puerto Rico, Colombia, and Panama in their group stage games before beating Argentina 5-1 in their quarter-final and Mexico 3-0 in their semi-final.

They entered the Gold Cup final with five wins out of five and a 15-1 goal differential. 

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The USWNT came out in a 4-2-3-1 formation with two changes to their Starting XI: Shaw and Nighswonger out, Lavelle and Dunn in.

Davidson and Girma were the center-back pairing for the game, and would become crucial against an unyielding Brazilian offensive.

Coffey was played as the holding midfielder with Lavelle on the wing and Morgan as striker down the middle.

With Captain Rafaelle Souza out due to a left foot injury, Brazil was captained by Bia Zaneratto and three changes were made to their line-up with Thaís, Nunes, and Portilho starting. 

First half

Alex Morgan, wearing the #7 shirt as an injury replacement, kicked off for the United States.

The first half began with a series of chances for Brazil who attacked in a strong high press, and would maintain it for the remainder of the match.

Antônia took the first shot of the game from a distance in the 5th minute but the ball went over the bar.

Despite Brazil’s early dominance, and a flurry of chances for the Canarinhas, it was the the Americans that took the lead in the 46th minute.

The USWNT began to turn things around towards the end of the first half, strengthening both offensively and defensively, and the game-changer came right before the half-time whistle.

The United States’ first and the only goal of the final was scored in the first minute of added time by none other than Captain Lindsey Horan.

Coffey’s long ball for Rodman was played to Fox, who crossed the ball to Horan over a distance.

Horan headed it into the net, and the crowd erupted as the USWNT took the lead—a lead they would maintain to the very end. 

Second half

The USWNT made one change at halftime and Lynn Williams came on for Rose Lavelle.

Down 0-1, Brazil’s goalkeeper Luciana put in a much stronger performance in the second half, grabbing the ball from Coffey’s corner, just three minutes in.

In the 54th minute, Morgan tripped Antônia and received a yellow card. It was the only booking of the match.

Brazil made a sub shortly after, and Vitória Yaya came on for Duda Santos.

Morgan took down Tarciane in the 57th minute but no card was issued this time, however a precautionary sub was made with Sophia Smith getting her first minutes of the match.

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Brazil then subbed out Nunes for Geyse at the 63rd minute.

Dunn tripped Adriana who won a set piece for Brazil in a dangerous area, but Naeher snatched the ball from the air.

The home side made two more changes in the 71st minute as Shaw and Purce came on for Coffey and Rodman.

In the 78th minute, Brazil gave the ball away directly to Purce who assisted a would-be Lynn Williams goal, but it was ruled off-side.

Brazil then subbed on Debora de Oliveira and Julia Bianchi for some fresh legs.

The U.S. made one last substitution in the 85th minute as Krueger came on for Dunn.

Shaw fouled Brazil in a dangerous spot for a free kick as five minutes of stoppage time was announced but it went high.

Luciana continued to be vital for her team all the way to the end but despite her efforts, her team failed to find an equaliser.

Brazil made a penultimate play for an equaliser in the 95th minute, but it was dangerously headed away by Kreuger right next to the far post. Brazil’s last play for goal was eventually dealt with by Williams.

The full-time whistle finally blew with 97 minutes on the clock and the game ended 1-0 ready for the USWNT to lift the trophy.

Featured image courtesy of StarsApart via Flickr. No changes were made to this image. License details found here

By Jenny Chen

Jenny recently graduated with a double major in Political Science and in Women’s & Gender Studies. She is formerly a law exchange at the University of Edinburgh. She is currently teaching English in Spain while on her gap years before law school. Her hobbies include writing, traveling, and women’s football.