The United States Women’s National Team Victory Tour heads to the Pacific Northwest for a juicy matchup with South American nemesis Brazil at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday night. It will be the just fourth USWNT match in the Emerald City and the first since November of 2002 when the United States defeated Costa Rica 7-0 in the semi-finals of the 2002 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup.
Tonight’s match is officially an international friendly but there will be nothing friendly about this one. The United States is looking to snap a two-match winless streak against Brazil. Both of those results came in 2014 in Brasilia during the Torneio Internacional de Brasilia de Futebol Feminino.
The hosts came away with a come-from-behind 3-2 in the group stage behind a Marta natural hat-trick. That would be a bitter result for the National Team as they had jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after just nine minutes.
Brazil and the United States would meet again in the final of the tournament a week later. This time, the USWNT held Brazil off the board. Unfortunately, they could not find the back of the net themselves as the match finished 0-0. According to tournament rules, the nation with the better group stage record would be considered the winner in event of a tie in the knockout round thus giving Brazil the tournament championship.
One thing to watch for tonight will be the strategy that Jill Ellis uses in her lineup and substitution choices. We are still celebrating the achievements of the 2015 Women’s World Cup Champions but more important matches are on the horizon.
We are less than four months away from the start of Olympic qualification in the CONCACAF region. Barring any friendlies in January, the USWNT will have six more matches for players to prove that they belong in the squad that will attempt to win their fourth consecutive gold medal and fifth overall.
Ellis brought in eight players who were not members of the World Cup winning squad including 2015 NWSL MVP Crystal Dunn of the Washington Spirit, 30-year-old defender Gina Lewandowski from Bayern Munich, 21-year-old Paris Saint-Germain forward Lindsey Horan, and University of Virginia defender Emily Sonnett.
Midfielders Sam Mewis and Christine Nairn are the two most likely candidates to see to see significant playing time over the next six matches. Shannon Boxx will be hanging up her cleats following tonight’s match while Lauren Holiday and Lori Chalupny will finish off their careers in Sunday’s match at the Citrus Bowl. Carli Lloyd is 33-years-old while Heather O’Reilly and Megan Rapinoe are both 30-years-old, it is time for Ellis to start looking for the next wave of young National Team starting midfielders.
Stay tuned to VAVEL USA for live coverage from CenturyLink Field starting in the afternoon. We will have all of the build-up as well as match commentary from Chris Blakely from kick-off to the final whistle.