If they are to win the 2018 Tournament of Nations, United States’ women’s national team most likely need to defeat Brazil at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois on Thursday (8:30pm ET, live on FS1).
USWNT currently top the four-team, round-robin competition going into the last round of matches, but only do so on goals scored. They and Australia are tied on four points and a +2 goal difference, and Australia face out-of-contention Japan in their final fixture.
The team’s realistic chances of lifting the trophy almost came to a premature end in Connecticut on Sunday. Australia won last year’s competition and were very close to sealing a second consecutive triumph, only for Lindsey Horan to score a last-minute equaliser for United States to secure a 1-1 draw that kept them in the running.
It was a result they probably deserved following a strong second-half performance in which they put the Australian goal under consistent pressure. Their opponents defended with determination, and there weren’t a great number of high-quality openings, but United States kept going until they finally levelled the scores with Horan’s header off a corner.
Following the 4-2 win over Japan in their opener, it was another display that gave the impression that the World Cup holders are starting to get into gear a year out from the defence of their crown at France 2019.
That hadn’t always looked likely. A disappointing quarter-final exit at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro was followed by a failure to win either the Tournament of Nations or the SheBelieves Cup friendly competitions last year. If recent reports are to be believed, a number of players raised concerns with the federation over the work of head coach Jill Ellis.
Things have improved a bit in recent outings. Team USA lifted the 2018 SheBelieves Cup with wins over Germany and England and a draw with France, and they could now win the Tournament of Nations. While there is still work to do in forming a coherent midfield, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe are very much in sync in attack, while the defensive partnership of Abby Dalhkemper and 19-year-old Tierna Davidson continues to develop.
The result of Thursday’s match will, however, go a long way towards determining how their performance at this tournament and their readiness for next summer’s World Cup is judged. A win would seem to confirm the positives; defeat might just resurface dormant criticisms.
Opponents Brazil are still in with a chance of winning the Tournament of Nations, although they would need to both beat United States and hope that Japan can tie or defeat Australia to do so. That is not entirely out of the question, although a record of just one win in their nine matches against United States over the course of the last 10 years suggests it is unlikely.
Brazil were unbeaten in 12 coming into this year’s Tournament of Nations and had completely dominated the 2018 Copa America, winning all seven of their matches, scoring 31 and conceding just twice, to lift the trophy for the seventh time in eight attempts. But their recent record against stronger opposition didn’t make such good reading.
Brazil lost to Germany in a friendly last July, drew with Japan and lost to Australia and United States during last year’s Tournament of Nations and then suffered two further friendly defeats to Australia. Another loss to Australia, by 1-3, in their opening match of this year’s Tournament of Nations was followed by a 2-1 win over Japan, but it would take another win on Thursday to convince that they will be capable of going far at France 2019.
United States will certainly need to be wary of Brazil’s ability to move forward rapidly through midfield on the counter-attack, particularly as they looked vulnerable to such attacks against Australia, but they carry enough of a threat themselves to suggest they should still be able to record the victory that might just see them lift the Tournament of Nations cup.
Our Preview’s USWNT vs. Brazil Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
Team USA are favorites on the moneyline with the American-friendly betting firms at around odds of -210, with Brazil +600 and the draw at +255. But this is our US Women vs. Brazil prediction and recommended pick:
- Bet on USA women -1 goal on the spread @ -125 with Bovada.