Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe lead U.S. past Brazil in SheBelieves Cup

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Kevin Baxter
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
United States forward Megan Rapinoe (15) celebrates after scoring a goal during.
U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe, right, celebrates after scoring a goal against Brazil in the SheBelieves Cup on Sunday. (Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

Vlatko Andonovski has known nothing but victory in his first 15 games as coach of the women’s national team, the best start in U.S. Soccer history. Yet after his latest win Sunday, a 2-0 victory over Brazil in the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando, Fla., Andonovski said he still considers his team a work in progress.

“I wouldn’t say that we’re anywhere [close] to being 100%,” he said. “The majority of these players are in offseason. Once they get played in, everything will be a little bit easier.

“Considering all of that, we are moving in the right direction.”

The goals came from Christen Press in the 11th minute and Megan Rapinoe in the 88th, sending the U.S. onto Wednesday’s tournament finale with winless Argentina — a 1-0 loser to Canada on Sunday — needing only a draw to capture the SheBelieves title for the fourth time in six years. A tie would also extend a number of other streaks since the U.S. is unbeaten in 36 consecutive games overall and hasn’t lost in its last 52 at home.

The Americans haven’t allowed a goal in five games and have blanked 13 of their last 14 opponents dating to Andonovski’s debut in November 2019. The last two shutout wins — which extended keeper Alyssa Harris’ personal scoreless streak to a record 911 minutes — have come against Canada and Brazil, teams ranked in the top eight in the world by FIFA.

“They’re a great character builder for us as a team,” said Andonovski, whose team is ranked No. 1. “We want to play the best competition possible. We want to play against different types of opponents. Hopefully, we can get better from it.

“Ultimately these games are learning opportunities for us.”

The U.S. attacked from the start Sunday, taking five shots in the opening 10 minutes before scoring on the sixth, with Press finishing a counterattack by running on to a pass from Lindsay Horan, slicing through two defenders, and beating Brazilian keeper Bárbara at the far side for her 10th goal in her last 13 appearances with the national team.

In her last 28 games for the U.S., Press has been part of 27 goals, scoring 12 and assisting on 15.

Brazil nearly matched that a minute later when Debinha's pass sent the ball through to Ludmila da Silva into the penalty area alone. But Da Silva waited too long to take a shot and a retreating Crystal Dunn was able to break up the play with a sliding block. Brazil’s next-best chance came in the 82nd minute when Debinha’s shot from close range went wide of the far post.

Rapinoe, a second-half substitute, then sealed the win with less than two minutes left in regulation, stepping in front of Brazilian defender Jucinara to one-time in a Horan cross from the right wing.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.