SEATTLE (AP) — Australia upset the United States 1-0 in the opening round of the women's Tournament of Nations at CenturyLink Field on Thursday to register their first ever win over the Americans after three decades of trying.
Australian midfielder Tameka Butt scored the only goal of the match in the 67th minute after the Americans failed to clear the ball from inside their own box, then the Matildas held on grimly to post their maiden victory over the world champions in 28 matches dating back to 1987.
"We found a way to hang in there which is a good sign of maturity of this group and a massive hurdle that is the first time we've ever climbed that hurdle, especially against such a big opponent on home soil," Australia coach Alen Stajcic said.
The Americans tried desperately to get an equalizer but to no avail. Just moments after Butt broke the deadlock, substitute Carli Lloyd blasted a low shot from the edge of the box that the Australian goalkeeper Lydia Williams did well to save. The U.S. created some more opportunities but just could not get the ball into the Australian net.
"I think at the end of the day we gave up a goal that was against the run of play and was unfortunate but we should have climbed our way back in and we were a little unlucky on those chances," U.S. forward Alex Morgan said.
Ranked seventh in the world, the Matildas have been consistent performers in recent years, reaching the quarter-finals at last year's Rio Olympics and the 2015 World Cup, won by the top-ranked U.S.
The U.S. women are rebuilding after they were surprisingly beaten on penalties by eventual silver medalists Sweden in the quarter-finals at Rio, ending their run of three successive Olympic gold medals, and head coach Jill Ellis said the loss to Australia showed they needed to be more clinical with their finishing.
"I think we generated some chances and it didn't go our way," Ellis said. "Again I think we're trying to put different pieces together, look at different things."
Japan and Brazil, who are also entered in the four-team Tournament of Nations, played out a 1-1 in the first game of the competition.
Substitute Yuka Momiki put Japan in front when she latched on to a cross from Emi Nakajima to score in the 63rd minute before Camila came off the bench and equalized for Brazil in the 87th minute with a long-range shot.
All four teams in the tournament are ranked in the world's top 10 and the U.S. has plans to stage the event in non Olympic and World Cup years.
The tournament shifts to San Diego on Sunday before wrapping up in Carson, California, on Aug. 3.