United States
Lindsey Horan scores to lead USWNT over Brazil in Gold Cup final
United States

Lindsey Horan scores to lead USWNT over Brazil in Gold Cup final

Updated Mar. 10, 2024 11:35 p.m. ET

The United States women's national team lifted hardware on Sunday night, finding a way to beat Brazil 1-0 and win the inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup.

This wasn't the World Cup, but it was a major tournament, and coming out on top was an important step for the squad as it looks ahead to this summer's Paris Olympics.

Interim head coach Twila Kilgore's starting lineup was an intriguing one. On paper, it looked like a 4-4-2 with Alex Morgan and Trinity Rodman up top and Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, Sam Coffey and Korbin Albert in the midfield. But once the game began, it appeared that Lavelle – widely considered to be one of the world's best No. 10s — was playing on the left wing. She started ahead of Jaedyn Shaw, who has been spectacular for the U.S. in this tournament and ended up winning the Golden Ball. 

There wasn't a lot of rhythm in the run of play for the USWNT early on. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher had to spring into action a couple of times as Brazil was aggressive, dictated the tempo and held possession. The U.S. was on its heels as the Seleção were relentless in their press.


But the defining moment of the game came seconds before halftime when Horan powered a header past Brazilian goalkeeper Luciana to go up 1-0 before the break. The U.S. held onto its lead in the second half to preserve the win.

"That was a crazy tournament," Morgan said on the broadcast after the game, summing up the last few weeks. "But [we] finished strong and that’s what matters."

Here are takeaways from the match:

Play of the game

Brazil played physical and fast and the USWNT looked out of sync in the first half. But the sequence that led to the lone goal is the kind of stuff they hope to see more often with Emma Hayes at the helm. 

In the 45th minute, Coffey won the ball high in the midfield, sent a ball to Rodman, who sprinted it down, controlled it, and kept it in play deep in the right corner of the pitch. Rodman passed back to Fox, who served the ball into the box where Horan was there to finish with her head.

It was Horan's third goal of the tournament.

Turning point

Big picture, the turning point for the U.S. in this tournament was when it lost to Mexico in the final match of the group stage almost two weeks ago. It was a stunning result, but turned out to be the adversity the team needed. The USWNT came together in the following days and responded.

They went onto win a chippy quarterfinal against Colombia and then overcame wet 'n wild field conditions to beat Canada in the semifinal.

The Gold Cup final was not the USWNT's best performance, but they found a way to win a major tournament while in the midst of so much transition.

"I’m very, very proud of the team right now," Horan said. "We grinded out the win again. It was a difficult game and Brazil challenged us in a different way. I’m really, really proud of us finding a way to get a goal and finishing out the game and getting a trophy."

Key stat

What's next for the USWNT?

The team will reconvene in a few weeks for the SheBelieves Cup. The USWNT faces Japan on April 6 in Atlanta, and then either Canada or Brazil on April 9 in Columbus, getting a Gold Cup rematch with one of those rivals. 

As the Olympics get closer, roster selections become even more intriguing — especially given only 18 players will make the squad. The next camp could feature players like Mallory Swanson, who trained with the team ahead of the Gold Cup, and Catarina Macario, who has now scored two goals for Chelsea in her first two matches in nearly two years. Both young forwards, who have the reputation as players that could be the best in the world, suffered horrific injuries that sidelined them, but are now ready to contend for roster spots.

The USWNT's April training camp will be its last before Hayes joins the team full time in June.

Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of "Strong Like a Woman," published in spring 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @LakenLitman.


Get more from United States Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more