On the one hand, this was just a friendly that the Stars and Stripes were supposed to win. But on the other hand, it’s time to get frickin’ hyped about the USWNT! With a 4-1 win over Brazil on Thursday night, America took home the Tournament of Nations trophy. But more important than that hardware is the sheer prettiness of the goals they scored.
After inflicting an own goal upon themselves 16 minutes into the match, the U.S. came back with four unanswered goals evenly spaced through the rest of the game, in an ideal offensive effort that involved zero flukes and showcased the attacking qualities of this team at their peak.
The first American score started with a long cross from who else but Megan Rapinoe, helped along to Lindsey Horan by an Alex Morgan header. From the corner of the box, Horan made a flawless delivery to young midfielder Rose Lavelle, who finished beautifully for the equalizer. Rapinoe and Morgan may be extremely well established within this team, but that final combo is the present and the future of this midfield, and it looks good.
Tobin Heath deserves all the credit for the following two goals, first with all her hesitation and composure in the box as she waited to set up Julie Ertz for the go-ahead...
...and then with a nasty curling finish eight minutes later. Heath had struggled with injuries in the past couple years, and at 30 years old she’ll probably be making her final World Cup appearance in 2019, but this game re-announced the winger as a key presence on that right side opposite Rapinoe.
And speaking of Rapinoe, she finally got her well-deserved point with the final goal in the 77th minute, which came unsurprisingly on a set-piece finished in by Alex Morgan. With yet another assist (plus the cross that started it all in the first half), Rapinoe continued to be the engine that makes this offense run.
Put as much stock in this game as you want—if you’re really cynical, you could call it completely meaningless, or get hung up on the U.S.’s 1-1 draw with Australia in their last game. But on its own terms, this 4-1 win is thrilling, and with the World Cup starting in France in exactly 308 days, it’s reason to get a little geeked. The USWNT has dealt with Olympic disappointment and general inconsistency in the three years since their last World Cup victory, but as we inch closer to 2019, they’re starting to look more and more like the greatest team in the world again.