In the first half, the Matildas clearly matched it with the USWNT with almost equal possession and shots on net, but a couple of good saves from USA glove women Hope Solo denied the Australians a little piece of history, having never beaten the USA before.
After a decent build up Caitln Foord, unexpectedly playing at left back, overlapped Sam kerr to set up the cut back pass to Emily van-Egmond for a clear shot on net from 25 metres out, but a good parry by Solo deflected the shot off the cross bar to deny the Australians early.
“ We have put the hard work in and we have the ability and the talent in this team to take it to them (the USA),” said Australian coach Alen Stajcic.
This is exactly what the Matildas did with inventive, imaginative, high intensity football and Stajcic’s tactic to capitalise on the athleticism of Foord coming forward from the back was nothing short of genius in the early stages, but you always wondered if the same intensity could be prolonged.
At this point Australia were playing like they were ranked 2nd in the world and the USWNT were the under dogs, that is until the nerves dissipated and US midfielder Megan Rapinoe started to get more involved in the match.
Every time she touched the ball she looked dangerous and was clearly the best player for the USA in the early stages with her darting runs inside from the wing, putting pressure on the Australian midfield and backs.
Totally against the run of play, Rapinoe won the second ball off a header on the edge of the Australian box, turned and a deflected shot beat stranded Australian keeper Melissa Barbieri.
Eleven minutes in, USA 1 Australia 0, but you have to give the Matildas their due they didn’t drop their heads and in true Aussie style pushed forward with continued relentless intensity to equalise.
That equaliser almost occurred after a great run to get in behind and a right foot volley from Sam Kerr that would have beaten any other keeper except Hope Solo, who once again kept the Australians scoreless after two good chances in 12 minutes.
The Australian’s continually attacked down the left side and were successful, especially after a ball found its way inside to Michelle Heyman who awkwardly knocked the ball square to Lisa De Vanna who finished clinically to equalise at the 27th minute mark.
The end of the second half was littered with long balls from the backline to Abby Wambach at the far post and it was obvious that the USA were playing more directly hoping to poach a goal just before half time, but Laura Alleyway did a superb job putting pressure on the big American captain to deny her.
The Matildas could have gone one up at the 44th minute after a free kick beat the pack to sail towards the far post only for it to be once again collected by Hope Solo.
The second half was a very different game with the American’s holding more of the possession and as they started to push forward the Matildas caught them on the counter attack through a straight run from Kerr who was denied by the recovering Becky Sauerbrunn.
After some good work, once again down the left side from Rapinoe, the unusually quiet Sydney Leroux took the ball to the bi-line to cut it back to the un-marked Christen Press who had delayed her run to take advantage of the poor defensive body position of the Australia defender. USWNT 2 Australian Matildas 1.
At the 53rd minute it was all the USA with the Matildas giving the ball away far too easily especially playing out of their defensive third and being panicked into clearing balls when at times there was little pressure and playing out may have been the better option.
“The Australian performance was good for large patches of the game, especially in the first half, but a couple of bits of class from Rapinoe changed the game,” said Stajcic.
The Australians play their second group match against Nigeria, who unexpectedly drew Sweden today, on 12th June 16:00 local time.
By Paul Brown