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USWNT closes 2014 by losing Brasilia tournament title

Abby Wambach USWNT by Derik Hamilton USA TODAY
Photo by Derik Hamilton/USA Today Sports


The U.S. Women’s National Team ended their 2014 on a bitter note Sunday, drawing to Brazil to lose their final tournament of the year.

Brazil’s Marta could not match her splendid performance against the Americans a week ago, but the International Tournament of Brasilia hosts did dominate the USWNT and forced a scoreless stalemate, enough to hand Brazil the tournament title on tiebreaker.

The USWNT started in what looked like an experimental lineup — a 4-4-2 with Abby Wambach and Lauren Holiday as the front pair, with Kelley O’Hara, normally a defender, on the right midfield flank. The departure from coach Jill Ellis’ favored 4-3-3 seemed to be targeted at containing Marta, which it did, but the Americans struggled to control the midfield or maintain possession.

The USWNT’s best chance came in the 59th minute as a long Tobin Heath cross found Wambach on the far post. Wambach’s header had pace and goalkeeper Luciana beat, but sailed just wide. Brazil had a similar failed chance — Monica’s powerful, close-range header off a Marta corner kick was nodded just wide in the 38th minute.

Strikers Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux and Christen Press were all unavailable for Sunday’s match, leaving Wambach and Amy Rodriguez as the sole American forward options. Rodriguez, a late sub, scored in the closing minute of regulation but was ruled offside and the goal was disallowed.

The tide could have turned badly for the Americans in the 80th minute. Inside the 18-yard-box, Carli Lloyd apparently fouled Andressa, who did well to weave through the American defense with the ball at her feet, but no penalty was awarded.

For the Americans, the tournament was a tough end to their pre-World Cup year. They managed just four points in group play and dropped in the FIFA world rankings for the first time in nearly seven years.

The tournament itself likely doesn’t matter much to the Americans, but with roughly six months until Canada 2015, it provided World Cup-like conditions against strong opponents in a compact game schedule. If Sunday’s result means anything, it’s probably that the Americans have plenty of work to do before next summer.

The Americans drew what is widely being called “The Group of Death” for the Women’s World Cup and, if they don’t win that group, it’s likely Brazil will await them in the knockout round — a fact that looms after Brazil’s win and draw to the USWNT in the International Tournament of Brasilia.

Under the leadership of coach Tom Sermanni, who was fired in April, and later Ellis, the USWNT finishes 2014 with a 16-3-5 record.

What do you think about these results? Worried about the U.S. women heading into the World Cup?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Ellis needs to find someone with some bite at Dmid…. why not try Krieger or O’Hara…if possession was a problem with either one, Then pair with Holiday in a 4-2-3-1. Ellis’ 4-3-3 will never work, and I doubt any variation of 4-4-2 will work with this roster against top level WC teams…we absolutely need to have 5 in the midfield to stalemate the better possession teams and take our chances with the counter with hopefully a healthy Morgan and Press.

    Brian is ready to start and should be on the field every game.

    Wambach should strictly be a late game sub.

    Chalupa coming back is a big positive.

    Chalupa..Rampone..Sauerbrunn…Kriegs or Dunn

    Maybe tuck Pinoe inside a little.

    Lloyd has a good shot, but I think Brian gives you more vision and creativity and better distribution up field against the top teams.

    I’d love to see O’Hara given a shot at Dmid…she has a tireless work rate, usually number one in the beep test and competes extremely hard…IMO she has the potential to be a female Gattuso.

  2. Come on guys…Ellis was hired cause Abby knows she’ll be a big part of the team this summer with her as the coach.
    Abby should be switched to a late sub or the defensive mid spot just like Akers was used during the ’99 World Cup. Use Abby’s size and heart to crush those skillful center mids…if she can catch them

  3. Even if Ellis makes some much needed changes, the upcoming Algarve Cup will unfortunately not provide the USWNT with a chance to improve, thanks to the draw. Brazil, Japan, France, Sweden and China will be playing each other, and consequently only getter better. The US will be playing Norway, Iceland and Switzerland; in other words, no real challenges.

  4. When will somebody in the soccer media going to have a “The emperor has no clothes” moment and state the obvious that Abby has lost several steps and should be benched in favor of younger, fitter, faster teammates.

    • It’s not just Abby though she is the most obvious example of why the USWNT continues to come up short on the biggest stage. The team is organized around aging “stars” who aren’t getting it done on the field anymore but draw in large paying crowds of fans who care more about seeing their idols than about team development. They are happy as long as the team beats up on weaker teams in friendlies. Only a select few of the younger players get a real chance to make the team, but they will never displace an older player until the older player actually retires or goes down with a serious injury. There is every chance that the average age of the USWNT at the world cup will be over 30.

    • yes. bring her in with 15-20 to go against tired legs sounds perhaps useful going forward? that would be a good thing to learn and for Abby to accept coming out of this maybe? and in some matchups her physicality can still dominate but not at the top level as before

    • Morgan, Leroux and Press are lethal bullets missing from our WNT gun. Abby is on the downslide and Brazil got a false taste of what the WNT will bring to the WC.

  5. Despite the relative negative tone of this article, I don’t think a 0-0 result is anything close to disgraceful against Brazil, especially on their home turf.

    The tournament as a whole however left much to be desired for the US….

    • if the USWNT actually played well, it would be fine…. but they didn’t. no possession, couldn’t string passes together at all

      • As poorly as the team played, the coach carries a lot of the blame for some questionable personnel and tactical decisions. I don’t understand how Jill Ellis thought the team would win by playing a bunker and counter strategy with two of the slowest players on the team in Wambach and Holiday playing up top. Rodriguez should have been brought on much earlier with some additional speed on the wing to keep the Brazilian defense honest.

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