The Soccer Desk

Leroux Shines, Tymrak Gets First Goal As USWNT Down Brazil

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The US Women’s National Team took to the field for the final time in 2013 against fourth ranked Brazil on Sunday afternoon in Orlando, FL. In a match that lived up to its hype, the US found a way to dispatch of a feisty Brazilian team 4-1 at the Florida Citrus Bowl in front of 20,274 fans. Orlando proved to host the largest crowd that would see the US Women compete on home soil this year.

The physical play of both teams was on display early when Brazil picked up the first yellow card of the match in the fifth minute of play after Andreia was booked for shoving Abby Wambach to the ground while the US set up for a corner kick. While the pace was fast from the opening kick off, neither team would score until the 15th minute when US forward Sydney Leroux found time and space at the back post and fired her shot into the back of the net. Receiving a well placed cross from Heather O’Reilly, Leroux only needed one touch to fire home a volley into the open net giving the US a deserved 1-0 lead.

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Just moments later the US was on the attack again when Brazilian midfielder Andressa took down Wambach in the box and referee Margaret Domka pointed to the spot. Wambach made no mistakes this time and fired home after Thais dove the wrong way, extending the US lead to 2-0 in the 17th minute. Just when it seemed that the rout could be on, Brazil found their footing and started to really pressure the US midfield and back line. It wouldn’t take Brazil long to test Hope Solo, forcing her to make some stunning saves. One goal that Solo would like to have back came in the 25th minute when Rosana beat defender Leigh Ann Robinson to a ball in the air and put a powerful downward header on goal that just eluded Solo to cut the US lead to 2-1.

With Brazil finding time and space to pressure the US back line, you might have thought that this match would be closer than what it was. It didn’t take the US long to find their attacking form again. As they continued to pressure the Brazilian defense, finding a way to put their shots on goal proved to be a tough challenge. The fourth goal of the half came in the 36th minute when Leroux rounded the keeper and easily slotted it home for her second of the match. After some good possession in the midfield by Carli Lloyd, she played the ball forward to Wambach who found Leroux on the left side. After some crafty footwork, Leroux went one-on-one with Thais and was able to get by her and extend the US lead once again. When the half time whistle blew, the US had a  3-1 lead going into the break.

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The second half started with Brazil on the attack forcing Solo into some very key stops to preserve the lead for the US. The first of those saves came in the 55th minute when Raquel would find space in the final third, and fired a shot that Solo had to be sharp to parry away. Raquel would force another stop from Solo in the 62nd minute forcing Solo off her line to make a vital save. The battle in the midfield started getting tougher and tougher as both teams where looking to find a way down the middle of the field.

The US would begin to make their changes in the 68th minute with Alex Morgan and Lindsey Horan entering the match for Abby Wambach and Sydney Leroux. With a new attacking threat up top, Brazil was forced to change their defending tactics. Containing Morgan and Horan seemed easier than containing Wambach and Leroux, but Brazil still seemed vulnerable with the speed up top. The next set of changes for the US came in the 73rd minute when Erika Tymrak and Rachel Buehler entering the match for Stephanie Cox and Christie Rampone. The introduction of Tymrak moved Kristie Mewis to left back allowing Tymrak to take over at right midfield.

The change had an immediate impact for the US as Tymrak would score her first international goal just three minutes after entering the match. After receiving a pass from Horan; Tymrak slipped past a pair of Brazilian defenders and fired a shot to the lower left corner of the goal that found the back of the net. With the US lead at 4-1, it seemed unlikely that Brazil would find a way back into this contest. As the physical nature of the match continued to grow, both medical staffs where certainly busy in the second 45 minutes of play. The first US yellow was picked up by Carli Lloyd in the 79th minute after a hard challenge on Thaisa that kept the defender down for a moment or two.

The battles continued on the pitch for the remaining 20 plus minutes of the match, forcing both sides to show their grit. While the US back line is certainly a work in progress, they seemed to be playing with fire on a few occasions, and Brazil was unfortunate not to capitalize on them. Morgan nearly found her way onto the score sheet in the 82nd minute only to see her shot pushed wide of goal by Thais to keep the score at 4-1. The US would see their first red card since the 2011 Women’s World Cup quarterfinals, when in the 92nd minute Lloyd was shown a second yellow card and was sent off.

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As the year ends on a high for the US Women, the upcoming year will be a one that could define their Women’s World Cup run. Unbeaten in 77 home appearances, the team finishes the year with an impressive 13-0-3 going unbeaten for only the second time in their history.