2019 SheBelieves Cup recap: USWNT edge Brazil to finish runner-up
Three changes to the USWNT starting XI against Brazil. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

On Tuesday night the USWNT held off Brazil for their first win of the 2019 SheBelieves Cup. England had defeated Japan in the early match to claim the title so the best the Americans could finish was runner-up. Tobin Heath would help secure second place with her 20th minute goal. Brazil were unable to find the equalizer and finished the tournament in the last position. Both teams learned what they need to improve on in the last tournament before the FIFA 2019 Women’s World Cup.

USWNT strike early

The Americans started on the front foot to create chances but were unable to finish. The best chance came in the first minute when Mallory Pugh was taken down in Brazil’s penalty area but head referee Carol Anne Chenard waived it off. Pugh would start the attack leading to the goal when she laid a pass into space in the defensive zone. Heath collected, bringing the ball down to Brazil’s box where she found Alex Morgan on the left one on one with the goalkeeper. Brazilian goalkeeper, Aline Villares Reis, stopped Morgan’s bid but Heath followed to clean up the rebound and fired a shot into the upper corner of the net. Defender Kelley O’Hara almost doubled the lead in the 34th minute on a diving header from Heath but Aline was able to get a hand on the ball. Morgan had a few more opportunities to collect her 100th international goal but was unable to finish. She would would eventually would be subbed out in the 87th minute for Carli Lloyd.

Brazil and Marta had their chances as well but were unable to find many quality shots. The best of Brazil’s opportunities came near the end of the match. In the 75th minute, Ashlyn Harris was able to deny Ludmila da Silva’s header that would have equalized the match. Harris’ Orlando Pride teammate, Marta put in a cross near six yards out that Ludmila deflected but Harris got a right hand to save the American lead.

Jill Ellis adjust her starting XI

After the first two matches, head coach Jill Ellis changed her starting lineup in response to the draws against Japan and England. Samantha Mewis earned her first start in a midfield that looked shaky in the first two matches. With Lindsey Horan out with injury, midfields Pugh, and Rose Lavelle had difficulties defensively. Mewis, in place of Lavelle, was given her first start since October 2018 and had an instant connection with forward Megan Rapinoe giving the US options and holding possession. Mewis did well defensively breaking up Brazil’s attack and was able to be involved offensively on late runs. Veteran Becky Sauerbrunn earned a start on the backline in place of Tierna Davidson. Brazil was able to threaten late in the match but with the help of midfielder Julie Ertz, Sauerbrunn and the backline helped keep Brazil at bay. Backup goalkeeper Harris got the start in goal in front of friends and family in her home state of Florida. The veteran goalkeeper was very vocal in directing the backline and earned the clean sheet. With the win, the USWNT will now focus on upcoming friendlies before heading over to France for the Women’s World Cup. The midfield and backline improved on Tuesday night, but the problems of the USWNT are not yet remedied.