A crowd of 23,603 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle watched Wednesday as the U.S. women’s national team played Brazil in a stop on their World Cup Victory Tour.
For the better part of 84 minutes, the Brazilians spoiled the party.
The United States women’s national team Victory Tour rolled through Seattle on Wednesday night, part of a 10-match commemoration of this summer’s World Cup title win. But when the visitors scored an early goal and held on tight, “Victory Tour” sounded increasingly misleading.
The “I believe that we will win” chants starting taking on a desperate tone, and 23,603 paying customers prepared to head out into the dark night in disappointment.
On a roll
15 Carli Lloyd goals in past nine games, dating to 2015 World Cup
101 Unbeaten streak for USWNT on home soil, dating to 2004
4-0-1 USWNT record on 2015 Victory Tour
Then Carli Lloyd, with a characteristically dramatic flourish, came to the rescue.
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Lloyd, who recorded the fastest-ever hat trick in a World Cup final and was named the tournament’s best player in July, netted the game-tying goal with less than six minutes remaining. And the USWNT avoided its first home loss in more than a decade, coming from behind to earn a 1-1 draw with Brazil at CenturyLink Field.
The United States is now unbeaten in 101 games played on home soil, an 88-0-13 streak that stretches all the way back to November 2004.
The mood on Wednesday night was festive from the start — half sporting event and half rock concert. Each player took individual turns in the pregame spotlight, with Seattle Reign midfielder Megan Rapinoe edging hometown product Hope Solo for the loudest burst of applause.
Shannon Boxx, retiring from the USWNT after 13 years and 195 games played, was subbed off for the final time 41 minutes in, basking in the applause and sharing hugs with Solo, Alex Morgan and Kelley O’Hara during her slow walk off the field.
“(Boxx) is a legend,” Lloyd said afterward. “She’s been the unsung hero. She’s gone out there each and every game and done the dirty work and not necessarily being given all the credit. In my eyes, she’s one of the best defensive midfielders in the world and always will be.”
Brazil scored the opening goal less than three minutes into the match, after star attacker Marta shimmied up the end line to win a fateful corner kick. Andressinha fired in a sharp cross that Monica headed into the back of the net.
The visitors are a squad made for exhibitions like this, when the lack of stakes seems to dial up the style. Brazil was all feinting hips and one-touch back heels, styling on a team that has for so long had its number.
The United States won its first four matches on the Victory Tour against Costa Rica and Haiti by a combined score of 28-2. But Brazil, motivated by the promise of next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, is a significant step up in quality.
“Our back line was tested, our midfield was tested,” USWNT coach Jill Ellis said. “And that’s what we want in these games as we move forward. This could be our most competitive game leading up to qualifiers.”
The United States pushed for the face-saving, game-tying goal.
Morgan’s glancing header from Crystal Dunn’s well placed cross dribbled wide of the left post. With less than half an hour remaining, Rapinoe broke free behind Brazil’s back line but fired her shot directly at goalkeeper Luciana. Morgan slid a pass across the goalmouth and just too far for onrushing Samantha Mewis.
Finally, Lloyd swooped in to save the day. She smashed Meghan Klingenberg’s cross off the underside of the bar, preserving the unbeaten streak and giving the home fans something to cheer about besides just the pomp and circumstance.
“There are so many fans out there — not just little girls, but little boys,” Lloyd said. “There’s people that don’t even watch soccer that are glued to TVs, watching us. It’s fantastic to go be able to go around on this tour and see the support, just the excitement.”
• U.S. team star Alex Morgan could be on the verge of being traded to the expansion Orlando Pride of the National Women’s Soccer League. Morgan has played with the Portland Thorns for the past three seasons. The new Orlando team was announced Tuesday and will begin play next season. Morgan’s husband, Servando Carrasco, plays for Major League Soccer’s Orlando City.
Sports Illustrated first reported the deal that would send Morgan and Canadian Kaylyn Kyle to Orlando for the Pride’s first pick in the NWSL draft and two international slots.