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The U.S. Women’s National Team defeated fourth-ranked Brazil 4-1 in front of 20,274 spectators at the Florida Citrus Bowl to wrap up the 2013 campaign with an unbeaten 13-0-3 record.
It was the largest crowd to watch the USA play this year and largest home crowd since 2004 when 20,435 turned out at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City to watch the USA defeat Mexico 1-0 in the match after the Olympic gold medal run in Athens, Greece.
Forward Sydney Leroux scored two first-half goals, forward Abby Wambach added to her international goal scoring record with her 163rd tally and midfielder Erika Tymrak scored her first goal in only her second WNT appearance just one minute after entering the game. Goalkeeper Hope Solo had a strong match, making three goal-saving stops and earned Budweiser Woman of the Match honors.
With the victory, the U.S. WNT, for just the second time in the program’s history, has posted an unbeaten record during a year that featured double-digit fixtures. The only previous occurrence was in 2006 when the USA went 18-0-4.
With 2013 now in the books, head coach Tom Sermanni’s focus next year will be toward the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying Tournament at the end of the year as the Americans focus on earning a spot for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.
The match was physical and high-paced from the start. In only the fifth minute, Brazil’s Andreia Rosa was issued a yellow card when she shoved Wambach to the ground as the two jostled while the U.S. attackers were setting up for a corner kick. That competitive tone was set for a first half that saw the teams combine for four goals.
The USA deservedly opened the scoring in the 15th minute off a cross from Stephanie Cox, who was playing in her first match since April of 2012 after coming back from the birth of her first child. The USA’s left back drove a cross to far post where Heather O’Reilly got on the end of it and touched it back to the other post where Leroux acrobatically finished with a left-footed volley. The assist was the 47th for O’Reilly to tie her for seventh on the all-time list with Carin Gabarra.
Approximately one minute later, Wambach dribbled into the right side of the box and drew a penalty kick after she was tripped up from behind by Brazil’s Andressa. Wambach easily finished herself into the right corner for the 2-0 advantage.
Brazil got briefly back into the match in the 25th minute as veteran Rosana’s scored her 19th international goal. Rilany crossed from the right corner to Rosana who rose high to strike a skipping header past Solo low into the left corner.
Leroux pushed the lead back to two goals in the 36th minute with a slaloming dribbling run that ended with a classy finish. Carli Lloyd fought off Gabi Zanotti and dished to Wambach in the center of the field where she redirected the ball to a darting Leroux on the left side. Leroux got past Rilany, powered into the penalty area and took a touch inside to elude the onrushing Thais. With the Brazilian ‘keeper on the ground, Leroux slotted the ball home for her second goal of the half and the 24th of her international career.
With the lead at hand, Solo come up with two big-time saves against second-half sub Raquel. In the 55th minute, Cristiane screened the USA defense to set up some extra space for Raquel, who took two dribbles to her right and lined up a shot that Solo parried away with a fully extended left arm. In the 62nd minute, Solo stepped off her line to stuff another Raquel shot after she had gotten behind the U.S. defense. Solo added a diving stop on Nene in the closing minutes.
With the defense holding its ground, the USA added to its lead in the 76th minute when Tymrak – who attended high school in Bradenton, Fla., and college at the University of Florida – scored her first international goal in just her second cap. Lindsey Horan and Alex Morgan exchanged a couple of passes before Horan dished to Tymrak. She evaded a defender to her right and fired a low drive from the edge of the box that snuck into the lower left corner of the goal.
In second-half stoppage time, Lloyd picked up a second yellow card and was sent off, marking the first red card for the U.S. team since the quarterfinal of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup – also against Brazil – when Rachel Buehler was controversially ejected after a run-in with Marta in the penalty area.