The USWNT scraped through to the knock-out stage of the Women’s World Cup after surviving a late scare when Portugal hit the post late in the 0-0 tie.
USA 0 Portugal 0
The U.S. Women’s National Team tied Portugal 0-0 in its final group stage match at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in front of a record crowd of 42,958 fans at historic Eden Park. With the result, the USA finished second in Group E and advanced to the Round of 16 where it will face the winner of Group G – which will almost surely be Sweden — at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium in Melbourne
Sweden currently leads Group G on six points, followed by Italy with three points while South Africa and Argentina have one point each. The final Group G matches will be contested on August 2 at 7 p.m. NZT as Argentina faces Sweden in Hamilton, New Zealand and South Africa faces Italy in Wellington, New Zealand. The Netherlands claimed the top spot in Group E with a 7-0 win against Vietnam and will face the second-place team from Group G in Sydney/Gadigal.
The USA will play the Round of 16 match without star midfielder Rose Lavelle, who will miss the game due to yellow card accumulation after receiving a caution in the 39th minute, her second in as many games this tournament.
The USA out-shot Portugal 17-6 and did not allow a shot on net, but once again struggled to turn quality scoring opportunities into goals. The physical match featured six yellow cards, three for each team,
And was tightly contested as both sides looked to break the other down in front of an electric crowd of nearly 43,000 fans, marking a record crowd for a soccer match at Eden Park, New Zealand’s National Stadium. The USA had a handful of good chances in the first half as it looked to find opening down the wings while Portugal’s attack looked most dangerous when the ball was at the skilled feet of attacker Jéssica Silva, who pulled the strings for her team with poise and flair.
The USA’s two most dangerous chances in the first half came from forward Lynn Williams, who made her World Cup debut on the night. The first came in the 27th minute after forward Alex Morgan received a pass and turned on her defender with strength, dribbling toward the endline and cutting inward while dribbling on the endline before putting a low cross toward the center of the box that bounced of goalkeeper Ines Pereira and into Williams’ path. She shot on target, but Pereira made herself big to deny the chance and then Williams’ second attempt off the rebound flew over the crossbar.
Williams then came close again in stoppage time as the team recycled the ball following a corner. This time defender Naomi Girma played a long ball into the left side of the box for Williams, who settled the ball with her thigh and fired on frame from about 10 yards, but the shot was right Pereira.
Keeping its lineup intact to start the second half, the USA dominated the initial part of the half as it pinned Portugal inside its own half and tried to find ways to break through. Morgan had a decent chance in the 54th minute after running onto a through ball from Horan and taking a touch to evade the goalkeeper, but she shot from a tight angle from inside the right side of the goal box and her attempt was knocked out for a corner. Williams then nearly struck in the 60th off a free kick from Lavelle, but her header went wide.
Forward Megan Rapinoe provided a calm and experienced presence after coming into the match in the 62nd minute for Sophia Smith and she was able to create some danger from the left wing, but her numerous services didn’t connect with teammates. On the other end, the U.S. back line did well to shut down Portugal’s threats with Emily Fox and Crystal Dunn recovering quickly on the flanks and Julie Ertz and Girma anchoring the middle, while goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher was also called to action with a few claims in the air.
Portugal’s best chance of the night came in the first minute of the eight given for stoppage time when a quick counter following a chance from Morgan on the other end left forward Ana Capeta, who had come into the match as a substitute one minute earlier, on a breakaway against Naeher. She took a touch to her right and fired a powerful shot that bounced off the outside of the right post and away from danger.
The U.S. strung a couple of close looks together in the final moments of the match as the front trio of Rapinoe, Morgan and Trinity Rodman knocked at the door, but the Americans could not find the back of the net despite their six shots on frame tonight.
World Cup Round of 16 – Sunday August 6th – 5am. Eastern time