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Snap Judgments: 2018 Tournament of Nations (07.29.18)

Robert Cole/ALOST

 

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

 

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — As the clock crept closer and closer to second-half stoppage time on Sunday evening, the United States Women’s National Team was staring two unpalatable realities in the face: the end to its year-long unbeaten streak and a rival that could claim being the kryptonite of the No. 1 soccer team in the world.

All of that changed with a trademark corner kick from midfielder Megan Rapinoe and a trademark soaring header from Lindsey Horan, the latter scoring in the 90th minute to salvage a 1-1 draw for the USA against Australia in the second game for both teams in the 2018 Tournament of Nations, a four-team round robin competition.

In its second year of existence, the Tournament of Nations was the event in which the United States last tasted defeat, as Australia came away with a 1-0 victory 367 days ago in Seattle. Since then, the Red, White and Blue have been near unstoppable, going on a 17-match unbeaten streak in which 15 of those games resulted in victories.

However, a feeling of déjà vu started to unfold in earnest during the first half, as forward Lisa De Vanna started an Australian counterattack in the 22nd minute with a lung-busting 50-yard run to the United States’ half of the field before playing a through ball to spring midfielder Chloe Logarzo in on goal. With only on-rushing American goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to beat, Logarzo rocketed a low drive past the keeper and just inside the post to give the Westfield Matildas a 1-0 lead.

Despite having the majority of possession and outshooting Australia (18-8), it took until the 90th minute for the United States to find their breakthrough and keep their unbeaten run intact. On the Americans’ 10th corner of the contest, Rapinoe’s delivery found the head of Horan in the congested penalty area, and her downward header beat Australia goalkeeper Lydia Williams to her near post to even the score.

In the first game of the doubleheader, Brazil kept its chances of winning the competition alive by scoring two second-half goals before holding on for a 2-1 win against Japan. Unsurprisingly, it was Marta, five-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award winner, who gave Brazil the lead, breaking the deadlock in the 76th minute with a left-footed strike before Beatriz doubled the lead with a 90th-minute tally. Rika Masuya scored on a wonderful diving header off a pass from Moeno Sakaguchi in the 93rd minute to provide Japan’s consolation.

Australia and the United States now have four points after two games, with Brazil one point behind after its win over Japan, who is now eliminated from championship contention. All four teams play their final game of the tournament on Thursday just outside of Chicago (Bridgeview, Ill.), as the United States will take on Brazil while, in the first game, Australia faces off with Japan.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Sunday’s Tournament of Nations doubleheader, with all photos taken by our senior photographer, Robert Cole. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 36 pictures in total.

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