Brazil triumphs in the 2017 AMF Futsal Women's World Cup; USA comes seventh

Estefania Banini and Argentina could not overcome Brazil in the final while the USA falls to Colombia and Catalonia in a pair of close defeats.

Brazil triumphs in the 2017 AMF Futsal Women's World Cup; USA comes seventh
The Brazilian team poses after winning the 2017 AMF Women's Futsal World Cup | Photo: @2017mundialamf

Brazil has won the 2017 AMF Futsal Women's World Cup by defeating Argentina in the final match. The 4-2 final scoreline belies the closeness of the match that was tied through nearly the entire game. Colombia beat Paraguay in the third-place game, while host nation Catalonia took fifth place over Italy. The tournament was thoroughly dominated by South American teams. All four of the semifinalist nations hailed from South America, as no team from a different continent was able to win a game against Brazil, Argentina, Colombia or Paraguay.

Brazil wins their first AMF Women's World Cup

Brazil was phenomenal in their victorious run through the tournament. Throughout the five-game competition, the Brazilians outscored their opponents 45-5 including 16-0 and 13-0 victories over the Taiwanese and Swiss teams respectively during group play. In the quarterfinals, the Brazilians took down their Catalonian hosts to the tune of 7-1 before beating the reigning world champions, Colombia, 5-2 in the semis. Brazil had been knocked out in the group stage in 2013.

The final match against Argentina was very close through the first three-fourths of the game. Brazil scored first, but the Argentine team responded immediately to draw level at 1-1. The teams then scored again in quick succession just after halftime, and the game would remain knotted at two each for nearly the entire second half. The deadlock was broken late in the second half when the Brazilian goalkeeper took a shot from her own goal area and watched the ball drop into the net over the outstretched hands of the Argentine keeper. Clearly distracted by the sudden goal scored against them, the Argentinian side gave up a fourth Brazilian goal almost immediately following the kickoff. While Argentina fought hard, there was too little time remaining for them to break down Brazil and the game ended 4-2. This was the first women's tournament that was not won by the host nation.

Estefania Banini shines throughout the tournament

Estefania Banini (Argentina) controls the ball and directs teammates in the 4-2 finals loss to Brazil | Photo: @2017mundialamf
Estefania Banini (Argentina) controls the ball and directs teammates in the 4-2 finals loss to Brazil | Photo: @2017mundialamf

Washington Spirit forward Estefania Banini is the only player from the tournament to play in the National Women's Soccer League in 2017, and she was able to lead her team to the final for the first time in their tournament history. Argentina has improved in each of their three tournament appearances, getting knocked out in the quarterfinals in 2008, earning fourth place in 2013 and coming second in 2017. Banini was not part of the team in 2013.

The young striker has played for Washington each of the last three NWSL seasons, but she has been plagued with injuries in each of those seasons. Despite the injury problems, Banini has scored six goals in 26 appearances for the Spirit. Banini displayed her excellent ball skills and distribution throughout the tournament, scoring a brace in two of her team's games and getting an assist in the final. 

The USA finishes seventh after two devastating losses

Colombia celebrates a goal against the United States in their 5-3 quarterfinal win. | Photo: @2017mundialamf
Colombia celebrates a goal against the United States in their 5-3 quarterfinal win. | Photo: @2017mundialamf

After getting knocked out in the group stage in 2013, the United States Women's National Futsal Team made it through to the quarterfinals in 2017. The Americans punched their ticket out of Group D with a 6-2 victory over Australia in their second match of the tournament. Anchored by McKenzie Berryhill and Maureen Fitzgerald, both of whom have NWSL experience with the Orlando Pride and Portland Thorns respectively, as well as Ashley Seal, the USWNFT fought hard in each of their five matches. Ultimately, the team came away from the tournament with two wins and three losses, but they were the only team knocked out in the quarterfinals to finish with a positive goal differential. 

The group stage concluded with a 6-3 loss to Paraguay in the opening match and a 6-2 victory over Australia. The victory meant that Australia would be knocked out in the group stage for the first time in their three Women's World Cup appearances. The United States drew one of the toughest teams in the tournament for their quarterfinal match, and they went down 2-0 to Colombia early in the game. The US scored next to make it 2-1, but then the Colombians scored on a ball that slipped through the hands and legs of the American goalkeeper. The team looked visibly deflated as the first half ended almost immediately after the goal. The USWNFT could never get the deficit below two goals during the second half and ended up losing 5-3. 

The Americans then moved into the losers bracket to determine where they would finish from fifth to eighth. Things were looking good early in their match against Catalonia, with the USA holding a 3-1 advantage over Catalonia. The home crowd came out in force, and the Catalonians were able to tie the game at four apiece after the defense had a few lapses. The game would go to penalties, and the USWNFT lost 2-1 in the shootout. Things went better in the seventh-place match, as the Americans beat Switzerland 7-1 in that final game.

The United States celebrates after scoring a goal in their 7-1 victory over Switzerland |
The United States celebrates after scoring a goal in their 7-1 victory over Switzerland | Photo: @2017mundialamf

The middle of the pack is exactly where the Americans belonged in this tournament. They were clearly better than the teams that were crushed by the top-level of competition from South America, but they didn't have the ability to generate space for their players and gave up too many unforced errors on defense. The South American teams found ways of generating open space and goals from distance that the USA couldn't compete with at this point.