U.S. vs. Brazil -- a memorable rivalry

July, 8, 2011

When the United States and Brazil meet Sunday in Dresden in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Women's World Cup, it will be just one more chapter in the best rivalry in women's soccer. Here's a look at a few more memorable meetings between the two teams.

May 22, 1999 (Orlando, Fla.) USA 3, Brazil 0

The greatest women's scorer of all time had to break someone's record. Mia Hamm did just that in Orlando versus Brazil when she scored her 108th career goal to best Italian Elisabetta Vignotto. In a theme that has continued throughout the years, the game was physical. At times, Brazil dominated the run of play and Briana Scurry was forced to make 10 saves to give the United States the win.

July 4, 1999 (Semifinals, Women's World Cup, Palo Alto, Calif.) USA 2, Brazil 0

The 1999 version of the Brazilian women was led by another great No. 10, Sissi, whose brilliant striking had been the awe of the tournament. Free kicks and corner kicks were dangerous, as she seemingly could score from anywhere, curling the ball around the wall and the goalkeeper, then sneaking it into the net. Scurry made six spectacular, sprawling saves and posted a clean sheet. An early goal from Cindy Parlow gave the U.S. the lead, and as Brazil worked hard to tie the match, the U.S. got a late penalty kick that Michelle Akers converted.

Sept. 24, 2000 (Sydney Olympics semifinal) USA 1, Brazil 0

Mia came through big-time for the United States in the 2000 Olympics. In the semifinal against Brazil, Hamm was hacked constantly throughout the game, but she delivered with a goal in the 60th minute. Hamm's goal, however, was disputed. Another foul on Hamm had led to a free kick, taken by Brandi Chastain. On the ensuing scramble in the box, Tiffeny Milbrett collided with Brazilian keeper Andreia, resulting in an open net and allowing Hamm to drive it home. Brazil complained that referee Nicole Petignat should have called a foul, but play continued.

Aug. 26, 2004 (Athens Olympics gold-medal game) USA 2, Brazil 1 (OT)

The Athens Games were the last major tournament for Hamm, Joy Fawcett, Julie Foudy and Chastain. The "'91ers" went out in style, gutting out a gold medal over a Brazil team that dominated the game but could not close it out. Brazilian stars Marta, then 18, and Cristiane, 19, ran through the U.S. midfield and defense like it wasn't even there. The Samba Queens registered 18 shots, nine on goal, forcing Scurry to make eight saves. They even knocked a few off the woodwork.

The U.S. led after scoring in the 39th minute before Brazil tied it in the 73rd minute. Abby Wambach netted the United States' second goal off a corner kick from Kristine Lilly in the 112th minute. With the golden goal rule eliminated (previously, the first team to score in overtime was awarded the win), the U.S. controlled possession and ran out the clock to end the match.

The younger players on the team dedicated the gold medal to the retiring veterans. "This is for them," Wambach said to reporters at the time. "It is for these players going through their last world championship: Brandi Chastain, Kristine Lilly, Joy Fawcett, Julie Foudy, Briana Scurry, Mia Hamm. All these players that have done so much for this team. This is for them."

It was indeed the last world-championship tournament for Chastain, Fawcett, Foudy and Hamm -- but Lilly and Scurry returned for the 2007 World Cup.

July 26, 2007 (Pan Am Games final, Rio de Janeiro) Brazil 5, U.S. U-20 team 0

Weeks before the Women's World Cup, the full Brazilian national team got together for the Pan Am Games and dominated the tournament. Marta & Co. outscored their opponents 33-0 through six games in the tournament. The United States sent its under-20 team, which met Brazil in the final and fell 5-0 in front of over 67,000 fans at Maracana Stadium in Brazil.

This was a chance for Brazil to showcase the sport in its country. "We showed to the country what women's soccer can do, what potential it has," a sobbing Marta said to reporters after the game. She later became the first woman to have her footprints cast in the stadium's Football Walk of Fame. "I do think of this as a victory for women's sport in general -- the stadium filled, people chanting Marta's name," forward Lauren Cheney said to reporters after the game. Cheney was the U-20 captain at the time and has started all three games for the United States in Germany this year.

Sept. 27, 2007 (Women's World Cup semifinal, Hangzhou, China) Brazil 4, USA 0

After knocking on the door for years, Brazil finally earned a win in its 4-0 destruction of the United States.

It started out with coach Greg Ryan deciding to switch from goalkeeper Hope Solo to Scurry for the game, as Scurry had done well against Brazil many times in her career. Once the whistle blew, the Brazilians dominated the match from start to finish. Leslie Osborne knocked in an own goal, Shannon Boxx was red-carded on a poor call by Petignat and Marta put together the best individual performance the tournament has ever seen. Her second and final goal of the night -- a behind-the-back pass to herself, followed by knee-buckling stepovers in the box before hammering it past Scurry -- is the best goal in the history of the Women's World Cup.

July 16, 2008 (San Diego, exhibition) USA 1, Brazil 0

Wambach broke her leg in this match, the final game before the United States left to play in the Olympics in Beijing. Brazil didn't bring its dynamic trio of Marta, Cristiane and Daniela on the trip. The meeting was yet another physical match between the two teams, and Wambach broke her leg in a hard collision. Without their best offensive threat, the Americans' hope of bringing home the gold medal were over before they had even played a game in Beijing.

August 21, 2008 (Beijing Olympics gold-medal game) United States 1, Brazil 0

In the first of two overtimes, U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd scored the game winner in the 96th minute, but it was the team's defense that won the match. Led by captain Christie Rampone and with more than a little help from goalkeeper Solo, the U.S. defense shut down Marta, Cristiane, Daniela, Formiga and the Brazil offense for 120 minutes. Solo's point-blank save of Marta inside the 6-yard box in the 72nd minute saved the game. In the final 15 minutes, Brazil threw nearly every player forward but wasn't able to find the game's tying goal, while the United States defended with ten.

It's perhaps the greatest game in the history of the sport, and certainly the greatest team defensive effort in United States history. Even without the injured Wambach, the underdog Americans were able to upset Brazil. It was the third straight second-place finish for Brazil in international tournaments ('04, '08 Olympics, '07 World Cup).

The United States and Brazil haven't met since the 2008 gold-medal game. If Sunday's meeting is anything like their past games, the world of women's soccer is in for another historic and memorable match.




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