The U.S. women soccer’s team has a chance and that’s more than could have been said after the first 79 minutes on Sunday.
The scene for the comeback was San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium. Brazil led 3-1 after a goal from Andressinha in the 78th minute, but over the next 12-plus minutes, the U.S. penned the perfect storybook ending.
“It was really important for us as a group to just refuse to lose,” forward Christen Press said afterward. “It just felt like we had our backs against the wall and that’s when you’re the most free, when you have nothing to lose.”
Press (80th minute), Megan Rapinoe (85th) and Julie Ertz (89th) all scored to pull out the 4-3 victory.
“It’s the classic will of this franchise, this program in terms of just gutting it out and a never-say-die attitude,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. “Now if I go to the takeaways (from the victory), now all those young players, on our bench and in the game, have experienced something like that and that’s a massive takeaway for us, that you’re never out of it.”
Now, after all of the celebration and the trepidation following its opening loss to Australia in the Tournament of Nations, the U.S. could still finish the three-city tournament as champion.
The U.S. will face Japan on Thursday (7 p.m.) at StubHub Center. To claim the title, the U.S. needs Brazil to defeat Australia (4:15 p.m.) and then it must defeat Japan, while overturning a three-goal difference.
Australia enters Thursday’s games with a plus-3 goal differential while the U.S. is at zero. The first tiebreaker if the U.S. and Australia finish even on points is overall goal difference, followed by goals scored and then head-to-head result.
The odds might seem a bit long, but Ellis hasn’t lost sight of the ultimate goal of this tournament, before the start of the World Cup cycle.
“If you look at our overall World Cup cycle in the context of a single season, we’re in preseason right now,” she said. “Cohesion and chemistry are elements we build on once we assemble the core group that we believe can help us be successful at CONCACAF qualifying and moving onto the World Cup in France.
“Historically, experience and depth are huge assets in World Cups. We probably had the highest capped team in 2015 at the last World Cup and a deep bench, so it’s critical in this phase that our newer players get valuable minutes against the very top teams. This tournament gives us that opportunity.”