USA Women’s Soccer Wins 2018 Tournament of Nations with Victory over Brazil
BRIDGEVIEW, IL - AUGUST 02:  (L-R) Megan Rapinoe #15, Tobin Heath #17, Rose Lavelle #16 and Alex Morgan #13 of the United States celebrate Lavells goal against Brazil during the 2018 Tournament Of Nations at Toyota Park on August 2, 2018 in Bridgeview, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The United States women’s national team earned a 4-1 victory over Brazil on Thursday night to win the 2018 Tournament of Nations.

Rose Lavelle, Julie Ertz, Tobin Heath and Alex Morgan all scored for the U.S., which pulled away in the second half.

Following Australia’s 2-0 win over Japan earlier in the evening, the United States needed to beat Brazil by at least two goals in order to clinch the tournament title.

Dominant Win Perfect Way to Cap Tournament of Nations

What was already a one-sided score could’ve been far worse for Brazil. The two teams were tied after a first half in which the United States was in full control and could’ve had two or three goals.

Ertz’s goal was a perfect example of how the USWNT put Brazil to the sword in the second half. Heath didn’t rush her cross, and Ertz flew in at the back post for the easy finish:

U.S. Soccer WNT @ussoccer_wnt

Silky smooth.
@TobinHeath isn’t playing fair. https://t.co/ybMi4rYtME

Brazil looked dangerous on the counterattack and exposed the U.S. defense at times, but the United States was in control for much of the match:

Caitlin Murray @caitlinmurr

It’s impressive how when the #USWNT stumbles, they usually find a way back. Very much the identity of this team. Unless Brazil pulls out some surprises, the U.S. has won #ToN2018.

The USWNT has gotten strong results throughout 2018 without overwhelming dominant performances. It won the SheBelieves Cup in March despite scoring just three goals, and decisive friendly wins over China didn’t prove much.

The United States put it all together at the Tournament of Nations, which is well-timed with the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship kicking off in October. 

Rose Lavelle Capitalizes on Starting Opportunity

No USWNT player gained more from Thursday’s match than Lavelle. This was her first start since Sept. 19, 2017, and she made a strong argument for remaining in the starting XI going forward.

Lavelle struck Lindsey Horan’s cross perfectly to tie the match in the 33rd minute:

U.S. Soccer WNT @ussoccer_wnt

We will absolutely accept this 🌹!

@roselavelle strikes it first-time and buries the equalizer for the #USWNT. https://t.co/XeymRi10y4

In addition to that goal, the 23-year-old did a great job of linking the midfield with the attack:

Henry Bushnell @HenryBushnell

Lavelle is doing exactly what the last two games were crying out for somebody to do. Getting close to Morgan. So active. Making a great case for a starting spot

Jeff Kassouf @JeffKassouf

Nice 45 minutes for Rose Lavell. She showed again how she can find and influence the game. Dynamic runs, smart combination from inside to out. Flashes of what can be when she’s healthy. You can bet Jill Ellis wants to see more of Lavelle in the middle. #USWNT

The front three for the USWNT is basically set. Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan are among the first names on the team sheet, and Tobin Heath has 136 caps to her name.

The United States has struggled somewhat, though, to find a player who can act as that connection to the final third through the center of midfield. The USWNT has had to move the ball out wide in order to break down opponents.

That’s why Lavelle has the potential to establish herself as a regular for coach Jill Ellis.

Tierna Davidson’s Inexperience Exposed on Brazil’s Opener

Tierna Davidson is quickly becoming a consistent member of the back four, and the 19-year-old shows a lot of promise.

Davidson was to blame, though, for Brazil’s opening goal. Her attempted clearance nestled perfectly into the top left corner past a diving Alyssa Naeher:

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

Brazil take the early lead thanks to an unfortunate own goal from Davidson! https://t.co/GZUbzMkaVR

Nine times out of 10, that clearance flies well wide of the goal. Davidson happened to strike the ball perfectly to lead to the own goal:

Abby Wambach @AbbyWambach

Hey @tierna_davidson if I know anything I know those moments happen in soccer. The way you respond is what matters and I like what I see. You needed to try and make a play on that ball. No worries. Your teammates have your back!! #wolfpack let’s go now @ussoccer_wnt

Still, one couldn’t help but think of the fact Davidson is the only player in the current squad who has yet to hit the professional ranks. With more experience at a higher level, the Stanford Cardinal defender may have been more composed as she attempted to clear the danger:

John D. Halloran @JohnDHalloran

Fluke own goal, but I mentioned on last week’s Equalizer podcast that it felt like Tierna Davidson (the team’s lone college player) was suffering from lack of competitive matches outside #USWNT windows.

It’s one of those things that’s bound to happen with young players, and Davidson should be a better player because of it. The playing time she’s earning now will be invaluable should she feature at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. 

What’s Next?

The USWNT has a pair of friendlies with Chile ahead. The two countries will meet at StubHub Center in Carson, California, on Aug. 31 before facing off at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California, on Sept. 4.

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