The USWNT and Portugal battled to a goalless draw.
The US Women’s National Team was a hair’s breadth away from being knocked out of the Women’s World Cup in the group stage. However, they escaped a late scare to tie Portugal 0-0 and move on to the round of 16.
In the last few minutes of the game, Portugal’s substitute Ana Capeta had a great chance to give them a famous win, but her shot hit the post, leaving goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher helpless.
The USWNT, trying to win its third straight world title, would have been out of the tournament if it had lost.
After beating Vietnam 7-0, the Netherlands finished first in Group E, two points ahead of the US. It’s the first time in the competition’s history that the USWNT has only won one group-stage match.
Almost any other time, a 0-0 draw against the two-time defending champion would have been a reason to celebrate. However, when the game was over, many of Portugal’s players fell to their knees in tears as they realized they were going home from the World Cup.
When the dust settles, and the pain goes away, Portugal’s women’s soccer players will feel confident about the future of the sport in their country. This is because they gave the Netherlands a hard time in a 1-0 loss and then tied with the United States.
Robin Alam/USSF/Getty Images
The USWNT, on the other hand, will have to answer complex questions about how it did in the group stages.
The team has 14 players who have never been to a World Cup before, and the new players have had difficulty working together. When they played against Portugal, the team looked the least put together they had.
After the game, US forward Alex Morgan told FIFA, “It’s hard to be second.” “We wanted to be the first ones through. This team did everything they could, but we couldn’t score.
“We just had to hold it down in the last few minutes. We had to get the result and move on.”
Morgan said the team hadn’t been at its best in Australia and New Zealand but added, “We’re looking forward to making the changes we need to make and to the next round.”
“It doesn’t matter if we play Sweden or someone else. We’ll pay attention to what happens tomorrow because we need to move quickly.”
On the edge
Many people were looking forward to the game, and hundreds of US fans in Auckland, New Zealand, were cheering loudly as they walked to Eden Park before the game.
Fans in line for tickets danced to a jazz band while chanting and singing “U-S-A,” “Oh When the Saints,” and “America the Beautiful.”
But the American players on the field didn’t show the same excitement.
Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images
The first few minutes of the game gave a good idea of how it would go. Portugal had the game’s first chance, but Jessica Silva, who was at the center of their attack, missed the far post with her shot.
The players from Portugal were doing a great job of making it hard for the US to play by tackling them quickly and not giving them much time to get the ball.
Morgan created the best chance for the US in the first half when she got free on the sideline and passed the ball to Lynn Williams. Williams had two shots at the ball, but her second one exceeded the crossbar.
The USWNT players would have known that the Netherlands were up 5-0 over Vietnam at halftime, which put them in second place in Group E behind the Dutch.
Even though the US got a better handle on the game as the second half went on, they still couldn’t make any clear-cut chances in front of the goal. Morgan and Williams had some half-chances, but Portugal could clear the ball with little trouble.
Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images
Even as the game was winding down, it looked like Portugal had just as good a chance as the US of scoring a late winner, if not a better chance.
As the game went into stoppage time, the USWNT’s back line let Capeta get behind them, but her shot hit the bottom of the post and went out of play, much to the relief of all Americans.
Megan Rapinoe, who has been playing for a long time, said afterward, “Our World Cup was on the line.” “Of course, those times will be stressful.
“We’re so happy to move on to the next step. Ultimately, that’s what we wanted from this match: another one. We’re excited to see who we’ll play in the round of 16.”