The U.S. women’s national team secured its place in the knockout stage with a 0-0 draw, but the disorganized and disinterested performance failed to inspire confidence in the direction of the team.
With the Netherlands’ 7-0 win against Vietnam, the Dutch side takes the top spot in Group E and the easier route through the bracket. The USWNT finishes as runner-up with just four points, its lowest-ever point total for a World Cup group stage. The Group G winner (likely Sweden) awaits in the Round of 16 at 5 a.m. ET Sunday.
The USWNT only has failed to win back-to-back Olympic and World Cup tournaments in 2000 and 2003. But if the two-time defending World Cup champions fail to make adjustments before the knockout stage, history could repeat.
While the USWNT advances to the knockout stage with the draw, the two-time defending champions cannot be happy with their performance.
Portugal won the possession battle, holding the ball for 56% of the match, but finished with no shots on goal. The USWNT outshot its opponent 17-6 and had six shots on target but did not put any of them in the net.
Capeta came off the bench in the 89th minute for Portugal and quickly created an opportunity for her team. Her shot went past USWNT goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher but bounced off the post, the first of a few threats for Portugal in stoppage time.
The 34-year-old striker got another shot on goal, but Portugal goalkeeper Inês Pereira made the stop.
Just before this chance, Trinity Rodman and Emily Sonnett came off the bench for Lynn Williams and Lindsey Horan.
The foul resulted in a free kick for Portugal from 35 yards out, but the USWNT escaped the ensuing scramble in the box.
Portugal’s Diana Gomes picked up her own yellow card several minutes earlier.
Alyssa Naeher gathers it and eases the tension in the box for the @USWNT 🧤 pic.twitter.com/7Cogh3yMsx— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 1, 2023
Alyssa Naeher gathers it and eases the tension in the box for the @USWNT 🧤 pic.twitter.com/7Cogh3yMsx
The USWNT turned to the three-time World Cup veteran to inject some energy off the bench. Smith, who scored a brace against Vietnam, had played in every minute of the tournament for the USWNT to this point.
Minutes later, Portugal replaced its own young star in Kika Nazareth with Andreia Jacinto.
Morgan collects a pass from Lindsey Horan, then maneuvers around the Portugal goalkeeper, but her low shot is cleared by Portugal defender Diana Gomes. The USWNT failed to capitalize on the ensuing corner kick.
Portugal’s Carole Costa picked up a yellow card for a foul on Morgan just a few minutes later.
The USWNT forward made a play for the ball, but she caught Portugal’s Diana Silva in the face with her cleat.
Meanwhile, the fire alarm was blaring in the stadium, but spectators remained in their seats at Eden Park. A sprinkler was malfunctioning, which led to the false alarm, FIFA reported.
To start the second half, the USWNT continued with the same lineup it utilized throughout the first half, to the chagrin of many fans and pundits.
Lynn Williams was the best of USWNT attack in the first half after coming into the match on fresh legs, but overall the USWNT looked disjointed. While the USWNT trailed at halftime against the Netherlands, this tie scoreline feels more disheartening — especially when compared to the Dutch team’s dominance against Vietnam in the other Group E finale.
The Netherlands took a 5-0 lead against Vietnam in the first half. If that scoreline holds, the USWNT would need to beat Portugal by three goals to take first place in group. A runner-up finish means a more difficult path through the knockout stage, starting with a likely matchup with Sweden in the Round of 16.
In her first start of the tournament, Lavelle receives a yellow card for a hard tackle of Portugal’s Dolores Silva. The 28-year-old midfielder also received a yellow card against the Netherlands, which means she would miss the USWNT’s potential Round of 16 match.
After Alex Morgan worked the ball in from the left baseline, Williams managed two shots in quick succession. Portugal goalkeeper Inês Pereira blocked the first, while the second sailed up and over the crossbar.
Another big chance for the @USWNT! 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/KZvHLzxoY9— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 1, 2023
Another big chance for the @USWNT! 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/KZvHLzxoY9
Jessica Silva took an open shot from outside the penalty area for Portugal, but the ball went wide.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands raced out to a 4-0 lead against already eliminated Vietnam. The USWNT claimed a 3-0 win against Vietnam to open the tournament, so even a U.S. win over Portugal could mean just second place in the group (and a tougher road through the knockout stage) based on goal differential.
In her first minutes of the tournament, Williams sent a low cross toward Alex Morgan from the right side. Morgan managed a shot, but it deflected off a Portugal defender and out of bounds.
Williams got her head on Rose Lavelle’s ensuing corner kick, but goalkeeper Inês Pereira made the stop.
No one is quite as adept at controlling the USWNT’s creativity as Lavelle, as Just Women’s Sports soccer writer Claire Watkins noted in her lineup prediction, and the midfielder gets her first start of the tournament. Williams replaces Trinity Rodman on the forward line, another change from the starting lineup deployed by head coach Vlatko Andonovski in the first two group-stage matches.
The USWNT is playing its last of three group-stage matches at the World Cup. After starting the tournament with a 3-0 win over Vietnam and then a 1-1 draw with the Netherlands, the two-time defending champions will close out the group stage against Portugal at 3 a.m. ET Tuesday.
The group-stage finale is available to watch on Fox and Telemundo. It also can be streamed on the Fox Sports app and on Peacock. The Netherlands will face Vietnam at the same time in the other Group E finale.