Marta shows off greatness, leaving U.S. women in her wake

The greatest that is Marta was evident on Sunday as she single-handedly carried Brazil past the USA, 3-2, at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia. The 28-year-old (only!) forward scored all three goals -- the second after she left four defenders in their tracks on a run that began in the Brazil half -- after the USA had led, 2-0, after nine minutes to hand Jill Ellis her first defeat as U.S. coach in 20 games.

Dec. 14 in Brasilia
Brazil 3 USA 2. Goals: Marta 19, 55, 65; Lloyd 6, Rapinoe 9.
Brazil -- Luciana; Poliana, Bruna, Tayla, Andressa Alves, Maurine (Beatriz, 59), Thaisa, Formiga, Rosana (Tamires, 71), Debinha, Marta (Andressinha, 88).
USA -- Solo; Chalupny (Krieger, 31), Rampone, Sauerbrunn, Klingenberg; Holiday (Brian, 65), Lloyd, Wambach; Rapinoe (Press, 64), Leroux (S.Mewis, 79), Heath.
Att.: 5,421.

Thanks to goals by Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe off errors by the Brazilian defense, the USA looked to be cruising to its eighth straight win over Brazil  (including the shootout win in the 2011 Women's World Cup quarterfinals) since the 4-0 loss in the semifinals of the 2007 Women's World Cup that cost Greg Ryan his job, only his second loss in 55 games.

Ellis should not be worried after first defeat, but the result was the second disappointing result for the USA in Brasilia after a 1-1 tie with China. She made just two changes from the China game. Lori Chalupny made her first appearance for the USA since October 2009, playing 31 minutes and then as planned, giving way to Ali Krieger at right back. Abby Wambach -- like Marta a finalist for the 2014 Women's Player of the Year award -- took over for Christen Press.

Marta looked to be offside when she pulled a goal back in the 19th minute, beating off a challenge from Meghan Klingenberg, but there was no doubt about her tying goal in the 55th minute. She collected the ball on the Brazilian side of midfield and raced clear to the U.S. penalty area, where four defenders awaited her. She moved to her left and beat keeper Hope Solo with an angled left-footed shot to the far post. Ten minutes later, Marta scored the winner with a bouncing shot from 25 yards that Solo could not collect at the near post.

The Brazil-USA match was a complete contrast to the opening game in which the USA produced few chances against the organized Chinese. The USA could have scored a half dozen goals against Brazil but for the woodwork that stopped Rapinoe and Press, a second-half sub for Rapinoe, in the final minutes of each half and the play of Brazilian goalkeeper Luciana.

The loss dropped the USA into a tie for third place with Argentina, a 6-0 loser to China on Sunday. The USA will need to beat Argentina and hope it can make up the seven goals it trails China with a Chinese loss to Brazil in order to avoid playing Argentina a second time in the third place game next Sunday. The first- and second-place teams will play for the title in Brasilia.

Brazil, which opened with a 4-0 win over Argentina, is in first place. The game was the 13th friendly of the year for Brazil, which won the South American championship to qualify for Canada 2015. Four years ago, Brazil played just three friendlies all year, all following the South American championship.

5 comments about "Marta shows off greatness, leaving U.S. women in her wake".
  1. R2 Dad, December 15, 2014 at 12:36 a.m.

    Wow--the USWNT appear to be flat track bullies. If we're going to enlist a big and beefy back line the least they can do is put a body on the ball. Marta was given so much time and space. Well done Brazil.

  2. Ric Dahlstrom, December 15, 2014 at 8:11 a.m.

    The USWNT is a tired, tired shell of it's former self. When I see an (obviously) non-world class player like Leroux trying to play at the world class level that is the USWNT I have to wonder where this team is going. The US team has to learn to influence the calls of a very weak ref as the Brazilians did. And Abby needs to show as much effort during play as she did in earning her yellow card. Rapinoe was a highlight in a tired game and her substitution was ill-timed. Coaching?

  3. Ed Shaw, December 15, 2014 at 8:45 a.m.

    Our defenders have been a step slow for several years but now they are two steps slow and not willing to take on skillful players - attacking players seem to be catching it so some big changes are needed!

  4. F. Kirk Malloy, December 15, 2014 at 11:16 a.m.

    Fortunately (for the USWNT) there's only one Marta, but the entire USA women's program needs a fresh look, top to bottom. Say what you want about some of the subjective decisions JK has made on the men's side (read, leaving out LD from World Cup, a crazy decision), he has not been afraid to break eggs. We need an egg cracker on the women's side too. For instance, see what a player like Marta can do with her speed and skill (and a Jordanesque will to win, you see the fire in her eyes? Very cool). She makes the "athletic" (read strong and slow) US defenders look like they're playing with lead boots. The entire US women's program, from youth to USWNT, puts too much weight on strength and size while undervaluing speed and skill. And has done so for years if not decades. Now the world is catching up and passing them with heightened speed of play. Anyhow, enough ranting. It sure is fun to watch Marta with the bit in her teeth!

  5. Allan Lindh, December 15, 2014 at 4:20 p.m.

    Why no Kelly O'Hara at right back. She's quick, and good going forward?

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