Caitlin Foord

AP Photo/Claude Paris

Australia defies Marta, Brazil in 3-2 thriller (video)

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What began as a day for Marta turned the legend’s accomplishment into a footnote.

Brazil let a 2-0 lead slip as Australia rallied to keep its World Cup hopes alive with a 3-2 win on Thursday at La Mosson in Montpellier.

The result will loom large in Group C should Italy handle its business against Jamaica to clinch one of the group’s two automatic places in the knockout rounds.

Marta’s 27th minute penalty made her the first player to score in five World Cups, and put her level with Miroslav Klose for the most career World Cup goals with 16.

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Eleven minutes later Cristiane’s deft header made it 2-0, her fourth goal in two matches.

But Australia rallied behind star Sam Kerr, as Caitlin Foord pulled a goal back in first half stoppage.

Brazil’s defensive play worsened as Chloe Logarzo made it 2-2 in the 58th, and a flicked back header became an own goal. It was initially ruled offside like Kerr, but VAR flipped the referee’s decision to give the Matildas a massive break.

Australia wins Tournament of Nations in 6-1 win over Brazil

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CARSON, Calif. (AP) Australia has won the inaugural Tournament of Nations, beating Brazil 6-1 on Thursday to claim the four-team round robin women’s soccer event.

Lisa De Vanna and Caitlin Foord scored two goals apiece to win the Matildas’ first international trophy since the 2010 Asian Cup.

Australia, the world’s seventh-ranked team, went unbeaten through the three-game event, starting with a 1-0 victory over the defending World Cup champion U.S. team in the opener in Portland.

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After Camila scored for Brazil just 80 seconds into the match at StubHub Center, Australia piled up four goals in the first half. De Vanna started the scoring with a goal off her own missed penalty, and Foord put the Matildas ahead before De Vanna and Katrina Gorry added goals.

Australia’s victory rendered the No. 1-ranked Americans’ late match against Japan irrelevant to the overall tournament result.

The U.S. needed Australia to lose to have any chance to make up a three-goal aggregate deficit.

Women’s World Cup quarterfinal preview: Japan vs Australia

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JAPAN vs AUSTRALIA
When: Saturday, 4 p.m., EDT
Where: Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton
TV:  NBC Universo, NBCDeportes.com
Team records: Japan 4-0-0 (1st, Group C; d. Netherlands, 2-1); Australia 2-1-1 (2nd, Group D; d. Brazil, 1-0)
Best performance at World Cup: Japan 2011 (champion); Australia 2007, 2011, 2015 (quarterfinals)

Key players:

Japan – Aya Sameshima: Clearly recovered from the knee injury that cost her the 2014 NWSL season with the Dash, Sameshima has been effective getting forward and helping Japan’s attack while still locking things down defensively on the left side.  The Nadeshiko have so far gotten by with few goals and outstanding defending but they are likely to need more the rest of the way.  Getting wide players forward will not only increase numbers but stretch the field which could be key against an Australian side that has been good in the center of the park.

Australia – Caitlin Foord: Dynamic young right back did a splendid job on Marta in Australia’s last match and this time she will be engaging Sameshima in a battle of soccer wits to see who will be able to push farther forward without shirking any defensive responsibilities.  Foord can also change the entire rhythm of a game with the way she can take the ball and make a dynamic run from her defensive third all the way to the attacking third.

[MORE: Complete coverage of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup]

Under the radar key players:

Japan – Ayumi Kaihori: Keeper made one of the best saves of the World Cup followed by the biggest blunder of the tournament to first keep Japan in the lead and then to give the Netherlands a half chance to win it in stoppage time.  Norio Sasaki made the unusual decision to start a different goalkeeper in all three group matches before settling on Kaihori, presumably for good, in the first knockout match.  By this stage of the tournament it usually takes at least one positive play from the goalkeeper position to advance.  Kaihori allowing the Netherlands to score was essentially her last touch of the match.  She’ll need to put it behind her quickly.

Australia – Elise Kellond-Knight: Possibly the least talked about but also possibly the most vital of the Australian defenders, Kellond-Knight will need all of her smarts and patience in order to help keep Japan off the board.  As displayed by their much ballyhooed second goal against the Netherlands in the Round of 16, the Japanese players can be as deliberate on the ball as they are creative.  Kellond-Knight will be charged with keeping Japan’s attackers in front of her and fellow backliners.

Inside the numbers:

55 — That is how many hours passed from the end of Australia’s victory over Brazil and the kickoff of Japan’s triumph against the Netherlands.  Sure Japan then had an easier travel burden but that is not a particularly fair way to schedule a World Cup.  No one is talking much about it yet but they might be if this one goes extra time and Japan start to lose their legs.

Random Fact:

This will be the first knockout match at a Women’s World Cup featuring two teams from the same confederation other than Europe.  The minor exception was when the United States defeated Canada in the 3rd place match in 2003.  But the teams had both been “knocked out” already so it comes with an asterisk.

Breaking it down:

Japan are deserving favorites as the holders and will be looking to employ their usual tactics of moving the ball around with equal parts patience and aggression while allowing their underrated defense to keep things tight in the defensive third.  Australia though will present a more deliberate, well-balanced attack than any of Japan’s other four opponents, all whom by the way were making their first appearance at a World Cup.  Australia also has depth to play with as evidenced when they brought Katrina Gorry and eventual goalscorer Kyah Simon off the bench against Brazil.

Prediction: 2-1 Australia

2013 NWSL team preview: Sky Blue FC

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Over the next two days, ProSoccerTalk will be providing quick capsules of the eight teams participating in the new National Women’s Soccer League. We start with one of the holdovers: Sky Blue FC.

Tucked away in central New Jersey, Sky Blue FC enters the National Women’s Soccer League as one of four teams returning from Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), the last attempt at a league in the United States.

Despite its overall struggles in WPS, Sky Blue FC won the inaugural league title in 2009 after a miraculous run as the fourth and final playoff team, winning three games in a week, all on the road. Center back Christie Rampone, who led that 2009 team as a pregnant player-coach, is the only remaining piece of that squad that will usher the franchise into this new league.

Rampone, the U.S. women’s national team captain, turns 38 in June but will still be among the elite defenders in the league. Sky Blue FC already boasts the most experienced head coach in the league in Jim Gabarra, who on Sunday will cement his claim to being the only person to coach in all three domestic women’s professional leagues. Gabarra and Rampone combined give Sky Blue FC a disproportionate amount of experience for a league yet to play a game.

Who you know: Rampone has been a mainstay with the United States for over a decade, winning the 1999 Women’s World Cup as a reserve and the last three Olympic gold medals. She will anchor Sky Blue FC’s defense. Kelley O’Hara is a rising star for the U.S. at outside back, but she was a star forward in college (26 goals and 65 points in her senior season at Stanford, earning her the MAC Hermann Trophy) and she’s had a stellar preseason as a forward.

Who you should know: Brittany Bock, a central midfielder who puts such a stamp on the game with her tough play that she is nicknamed “Brick Bock.” Her play in the center of the park will be critical for Sky Blue. Australians Lisa De Vanna and Caitlin Foord (18 years old) could also surprise folks.

What it means: Sky Blue is likely to be a middle of the table team, fighting for one of the final four playoff spots. The roster is solid throughout, but doesn’t stack up to the likes of a Portland or Kansas City. Gabarra’s coaching could be the difference between this team finishing fourth and finishing sixth.

Sky Blue begins their season Sunday night against the Western New York Flash.

More NWSL previews:

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