By CAITLIN MURRAY
The first match for the U.S. Women’s National Team since learning they will be placed into the toughest group at the 2015 World Cup could have gone better.
The USWNT drew 1-1 against China on Wednesday to open the International Tournament of Brasilia, their first time not beating the Asian side since late 2010.
The Chinese did well connecting passes up the field as the USWNT struggled to control the midfield. But the Americans struck first, with Carli Lloyd volleying a Megan Rapinoe cross from close range to put the U.S. up in the 23rd minute.
China struck back in the 68th minute as a floating cross from the left side found Hang Peng near the edge of the box, which she fired past goalkeeper Hope Solo to equalize.
With a younger Chinese squad taking the field Wednesday, the USWNT looked unprepared for the pace and rhythm the Chinese brought to possession. China threatened the USWNT in the 18th minute with a chip over the head of Solo toward an open net that went wide.
USWNT coach Jill Ellis stuck to what has become her core group of starters, but again tinkered with the three-front formation, putting Sydney Leroux up top with Christen Press on the right and Tobin Heath on the left. Megan Rapinoe again started in the central playmaking role, a change Ellis made to Rapinoe’s duties this summer.
While training in Brazil for the tournament, the team learned they would be placed into what many are calling the “Group of Death” for next summer’s Women’s World Cup in Canada.
The USWNT hasn’t failed to beat China since Oct. 6, 2010, when the two sides played to a 1-1 draw in Chester, Pennsylvania. Since then, the U.S. has beat China six times, including in former coach Tom Sermanni’s last match before being fired in April and Ellis’ first match when she took over days later.
Up next, the USWNT faces Brazil on Sunday at 4:o0 pm ET at National Stadium Mane Garrincha. The match will not be broadcast in the U.S.
Here are the goals: