Brazil and the United States of America (USA) played out a 1-1 draw in their second group-stage game of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday.
The United States – making four changes from its previous game against India– decided to walk on a different path than it did against India.
Melina Rebimbas (168 cm) gave way for a shorter and agile Amalia Villarreal (157 cm), while Mia Bhuta, Nicollette Kiorpes and Jordyn Bugg made their first starts in the tournament.
USA head coach Natalia Astrain took inspiration from the Spanish style of passing football instead of hopeful long balls in the box. The approach worked as the Gods of tika-taka smiled upon the USA when it got the breakthrough in the 33rd minute.
USA’s Onyeka Gamero – making a run along the right flank – beat Alice and Guta, looked up and crossed to Kiorpes on her left, in the centre of the box. The forward – replacing Taylor Suarez – slotted it home with ease, breaking the deadlock.
However, the lead did not last long. Four minutes later, Brazil’s Johnson passed from the right to Carol in the midfield. The No. 10 composed herself, turned and then launched a shot that rattled the net, leaving USA goalie Victoria Safradin on the ground.
Both sides started on an attacking note from kick-off. Simone Jatoba’s Brazil tried scoring early as it did against Morocco when it found the net in just the fifth minute.
In the third minute, a through ball for Johnson was intercepted by Jordyn Bugg with a timely challenge in the box. The 16-year-old, making her national team debut in the previous match, justified her selection, staying put at the back.
Seven minutes later, Mia came close to scoring when she started an attack, delivering a through ball from the left for Amalia. The latter crossed in the centre, and Mia poached on time to shoot, which was blocked by Guta. But the 17-year-old shot again on the rebound as the ball flew just over the net, earning applause from a chunk of American fans in the stadium.
Six minutes into the second half, Onyeka – the player of the match against India – was back in attack again. Making a run through the middle, she passed to Amalia, who had made a run behind Guta. However, Guta made her ground in the last second to deny a shot to Onyeka.
Savannah King – whose rough play saw Brazil’s Dudinha limp off the field, also brought down Brazil’s No. 7 Aline to see the second yellow card of the match.
Jatoba’s side, unchanged for the second game in a row, showed clear signs of fatigue. The Brazil head coach made two half-time changes —Juju and Grazy replacing Ana Julia and Alice
The USA almost scored in the 66th minute, when Cameron Roller delivered a pin-point pass to Giselle Thomson. The defender – who had sprinted along the right flank beating Brazil’s defence – shot on target. However, Brazil goalkeeper Leilane, one of its most important players, made a crucial save. She improved on it another ten minutes later denying Charlotte Kohler her second goal of the tournament with a stop that demonstrated her razor-sharp reflexes.
Brazil tried to play its wild card Rhaissa (replacing striker Johnson), who had scored the winner in the U-17 CONMEBOL Championship. But tight defending by Asatrain’s side, including the introduction of taller players (Ella Emri –175 cm and Nicola Fraser – 177cm) to maintain the aerial advantage, ensured the match all square after 90 minutes of a scintillating contest.
Match result: Brazil 1 (Carol 37’) drew against USA 1 (Nicollette Kiorpes 33’)