FIFA Women's World Cup
United States vs. Portugal highlights: USA holds on for draw, advances to knockout stage
FIFA Women's World Cup

United States vs. Portugal highlights: USA holds on for draw, advances to knockout stage

Updated Aug. 1, 2023 5:24 a.m. ET

The 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup continued Tuesday (on FOX and the FOX Sports app), with the United States battling Portugal to a scoreless draw.

After the Netherlands' dominant win over Vietnam, the USA finishes second in Group E and will move on to the Round of 16.

Check out our live coverage below, featuring live analysis from FOX Sports' Michael Cohen!


FINAL: USA 0, Portugal 0

A stunning conclusion to Group E in the 2023 Women's World Cup saw the United States slip from its perch atop the group and narrowly advance to the Round of 16 as the second-place finishers behind the Netherlands. Outplayed for the second consecutive match, the Americans held on for a 0-0 draw with Portugal that was enough for manager Vlatko Andonovski's group to stave off disaster and extend its tournament run — though plenty of questions will be asked between now and the next time the U.S. takes the field.

The United States came within inches of being eliminated from the World Cup when Portuguese forward Ana Capeta struck the woodwork in stoppage time after being played in behind the American defense. Capeta's shot in the 91st minute was the closest either team came to scoring in a disjointed game that lacked quality from both teams in the final third. Portugal edged the United States in possession (56.1% to 43.9%), but mustered 10 fewer shots in a controlled performance that, until Capeta's late attempt, never truly threatened.

But stability along the back-line is arguably the only positive Andonovski can claim from a game in which the forward-line was nearly invisible, the midfield lacked passing accuracy and the United States rarely showed it was capable of breaking down a stout Portuguese defense. This was the second straight game in which Andonovski's 4-3-3 formation was overrun by a team with numerical advantages in midfield, which nullified the impact of midfielder Rose Lavelle, who was inserted into the starting lineup for the first time. Forwards Alex Morgan (34 touches) and Sophia Smith (36 touches) finished with fewer involvements than every other outfield starter for the USWNT in a reflection of how difficult it was for the Andonovski's side to maintain possession both generally and, more critically, in the final third.

Yet in the end, a draw was enough. The United States has advanced to the Round of 16, where they'll face the winners of Group G — likely to be Sweden — this weekend.

97': Head-scratching decisions being made by the U.S. late

Really poor game management by the United States late in this game. They should know the goal differential is out of reach given the Netherlands' demolition of Vietnam, so at this point, the only thing that matters is avoiding a loss. Too many unnecessary risks being taken by the Americans in stoppage time. Not a lot of situational understanding being shown here.

95': USWNT barely hanging on

Possession numbers have slipped to 43.9% for the United States. Stunning. Two games in a row where the U.S. has been outplayed and out-passed by its opponents. And the Americans are a few minutes from escaping both of those games without a loss. Not what most expected to see from Vlatko Andonovski's team, which will face plenty of questions if it hangs on and advances to the Round of 16.

91': Portugal nearly eliminates USA from the World Cup

Maybe the best chance of the game there for the United States from open play. Rapinoe threaded a pass to Alex Morgan, whose shot was wayward. And Portugal immediately breaks the other way to create a shot that pinged off the post. Had that shot gone in, the United States would have been minutes from its World Cup ending. Credit to right back Emily Fox for sprinting across the field from the opposite side to make a last-ditch challenge that complicated the attempt from Ana Capeta.

85': Rapinoe showing she still has it

That's exactly the kind of thing Vlatko Andonovski would have wanted from Megan Rapinoe. She has the technical ability to play a pass like that down the line to Alex Morgan for a chance. Morgan didn't take the chance well in the end, but that kind of high-level pass is what Rapinoe brings to the lineup.

84': More subs for the United States

Both Lindsey Horan and Lynn Williams were subbed out in the 84th minute. 

Some final stats for Horan, who had been one of the best players on the field in the first two games before struggling against Portugal: 22-of-35 passes completed, 7-of-11 duels won, zero shots, three clearances, one tackle.

Some final stats for Williams, who made her first career start in the World Cup in place of Trinity Rodman: 8-of-18 passes completed, 9-of-17 duels won, four total shots, two shots on target.

84': Group E belongs to the Netherlands

The Dutch have gone up 7-0 on Vietnam. Unless the USA can score five goals in the final six-plus minutes, it'll have to settle for second in Group E.

78': USA looking for ways to shift Portugal defense

Updated average player positions for the United States shows Megan Rapinoe (15) playing from an even deeper position than Sophia Smith did to start the game. This makes sense given Rapinoe's skill set. She wants to get on the ball and ping passes. She's not looking to beat defenders with pace the way Smith was. Now you'd like to see one of the central midfielders slice through the space between Rapinoe and Morgan to drag defenders out of position.

75': Will Portugal turn up the heat?

Really interesting point from Aly Wagner on the broadcast. Portugal needs a goal to advance. So as Wagner said, at what point does it throw caution to the wind and commit extra players to the attack? And once it does, will a more open game create chances for the U.S. on the counter-attack? That might be the best chance for the U.S. to score since it appears unlikely they'll be able to break down Portugal's back line with traditional passing sequences.

64': Sophia Smith leaves the field

Some final numbers for Sophia Smith tonight: 7-for-14 passes completed, 6-for-16 duels won, one total shot, zero shots on target.

Sophia Smith's heatmap, courtesy of WhoScored, showed how deep she had to drop to get involved in today's game, which is a reflection of how difficult it's been for the U.S. to create chances in the final third. She was forced to run at defenders from 40-50 yards away from goal and encountered frequent double teams. Smith's total of six giveaways was the highest on the team. No other U.S. player has more than four giveaways so far today.

62': Megan Rapinoe enters the fray

Seems like a good choice from manager Vlatko Andonovski to swap Sophia Smith for the veteran Megan Rapinoe. The United States needs to find ways to keep possession and connect passes, which is an area where Rapinoe can really help. Smith's speed and ability to run in behind wasn't helping as much against constant double teams and without the kind of support she needs in the final third. Smith was also on a yellow card.

60': Williams can't convert on set piece

Another quality opportunity for the U.S. on a set piece. Free kicks and corners have been the best path toward success for the Americans in this game. But a misplaced header by Lynn Williams never had a chance.

58': Dutch in control of Group E

The United States' hopes of winning Group E have essentially vanished. The Netherlands scored again in the 57th minute of its match against Vietnam to take a 6-0 lead and go ahead by four in goal differential. Even if the United States wins, it would need several goals at this point to take Group E. 

57': USA misses on another opportunity

Good chance for the Americans after Alex Morgan drew a foul just outside the 18-yard box. A nice delivery from Rose Lavelle's left foot, but the header from Morgan went awry. Wonder if Lavelle considered having a pop at goal there from about 20 yards out considering how difficult it's been for the U.S. to create shots.

55': Carole Costa hit with a yellow card

54': Americans need more in the midfield

The tricky part about playing a 4-3-3 formation, as the U.S. has done in each game thus far, is the quality demanded of the three midfielders. With certain countries utilizing four- and five-player midfields, there's so much pressure on the American trio to execute at an extremely high level in possession and be remarkably sound with their positioning out of possession. The weak link, to me, is the holding midfield spot. Some of the best three-player midfields have a holding midfielder who can not only snuff out attacks defensively, but also serve as the pivot on offense, the metronome who can set the pace and be a passing fulcrum. That's not something the U.S. has gotten from Andi Sullivan in this game or this tournament.

51': Sophia Smith gets a yellow

48': USA in need of quicker ball movement

The FOX broadcast crew is calling for the U.S. to play with more pace, to increase the tempo. It's a fair critique based on what we've seen so far. But any increase in tempo has to be done intelligently. Playing outlet passes to Sophia Smith and asking her to play one-on-two, which happened repeatedly in the first half, is not a sound strategy. Instead, playing with pace needs to be moving the ball quicker with shorter passing and one or two touches per player. Make the ball do the work.

HALFTIME: Scoreless tie between USA and Portugal

After struggling to maintain possession against the Netherlands, it's been more of the same for the USWNT against Portugal. And with the Dutch pummeling Vietnam in the other Group E match, the Americans will finish second if the current results hold. So far, it's been 54% possession for Portugal and 46% for the United States. The Portuguese have used a diamond in midfield to maintain a numerical advantage over the Americans' trio of Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle and Andi Sullivan. The biggest issue for the U.S. has been passing accuracy. Seven of the 11 players in manager Vlatko Andonovski's lineup completed fewer than 70% of their passes in the first half.

Lavelle picked up a yellow card in the first half on a questionable challenge that could have gone either way. She will miss the Round of 16 if the United States advances, after entering the match on a yellow card. Lavelle was critical to the United States' efforts against the Netherlands by fueling the press and the counter-attacking opportunities in the second half. She replaced Savannah DeMelo in today's starting lineup and has played underneath striker Alex Morgan in a No. 10-style role.

The best chances for the United States have come on set pieces. This is developing into a theme of the tournament as the Americans are relying on their size and athleticism to make life difficult for opposing goalkeepers in the air. The U.S. entered halftime with a 3-1 edge in corners over Portugal.

Because of the USA's problems in possession, Morgan has hardly been involved. She had just 14 touches in the first half and only completed 2-of-6 passes (33%). Eight of her 14 total touches came outside the final third. The only USWNT player with fewer touches in the first half was goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher with 13.

The "World Cup NOW" crew reacted to the first half of USA-Portugal.

47': USA back-line holding steady

Even though the Portuguese have had more of the ball and created some chances, the U.S. back-line deserves credit for never losing its marks in the first half. It has done a nice job anticipating passes in behind and trusting its speed to win one-on-one battles. That doesn't solve the problem in midfield, but at least the Americans haven't been beaten for pace.

39': Lavelle picks up another yellow

Wow, that's a big decision. Rose Lavelle, who entered today's game on a yellow card, just picked up another. She will be suspended for the Round of 16 should the U.S. advance.

USWNT's Rose Lavelle receives a yellow card vs. Portugal

The United States' Rose Lavelle receives a yellow card vs. Portugal and will be suspended for the next game if the USWNT advances.

37': Accuracy is key

Along those lines, Crystal Dunn (75%) and Naomi Girma (76%) are the only U.S. players with 75% or higher passing accuracy in this game. Lindsey Horan is down at 44%. Sophia Smith sits at 40%. Those numbers aren't good enough.

35': Pass!

A pretty sizable disparity in passing accuracy helps explain why the USWNT has been unable to win the possession battle (56% for Portugal). The Portuguese have completed 74% of their passes compared to just 64% for the U.S. thus far. Portugal has a 154-113 edge in total passes as well.

30': Portuguese applying pressure

Clear area of focus for Portugal to play down the right-hand side as much as possible, just as we noted pregame. A heat map, courtesy of WhoScored, shows the Portuguese building through the midfield and then down the right flank against Sophia Smith, Lindsey Horan and Crystal Dunn.

26': Still searching for possession

First look at average player positions for the United States thus far, courtesy of Sofascore. Alex Morgan (13) is getting isolated up top with the Americans' inability to keep possession thus far. Also, worth noting, Rose Lavelle (16) playing underneath Morgan almost like a second forward at times.

22': USA looking dangerous

The U.S. continues to look really dangerous on set pieces, especially corner kicks, through the first three games. The willingness to attack the ball at its high point and challenge the opposing goalkeeper is serving the Americans well. Advantages in height and athleticism have posed problems for the opposition game in and game out.

18': The Dutch seize control

Just over a dozen minutes into both Group E final matches and the USA has been knocked off of the top spot in the live standings. The Netherlands has scored three quick goals against Vietnam to give it seven live points and bring its goal differential to plus-4, overtaking the USA by a goal. USWNT will likely need to win by multiple goals at this point in order to take the top spot in Group E.

17': A possession battle

Two consecutive games where the USWNT has had far less possession than its opponent in the early going, which is something the Americans aren't used to. The Netherlands found ways to break through the U.S. lines by dropping a forward into midfield and gaining a numerical advantage that way. The Portuguese are varying their attacks a bit more: some down the wings, some with threaded passes through the middle, some with longer passes and runs off the back shoulder of U.S. defenders.

12': Portugal making it tough

The Portuguese are marking player for player in the midfield to close off passing lanes. They're glued tightly to Lindsey Horan, Andi Sullivan and Rose Lavelle. It's making things difficult for the United States to connect passes from one part of the field to the other. Hence, the longer, searching passes to Sophia Smith and Alex Morgan at times thus far.

7': Dissecting the U.S. offense

If the United States continues attacking down the flanks, a good barometer for how successful that approach proves to be might be the involvement of fullbacks Emily Fox (right) and Crystal Dunn (left). If the U.S. can involve its fullbacks in the final third with support runs and overlapping runs, that should create additional angles for crosses and pull the Portuguese back line apart.

4': And we're off!

Two early attacks for the USWNT down the right side. In both situations, the Portuguese defense was clogging the middle of the box and leaving space down the right flank. Two crosses, two opportunities for the Americans in the first few minutes.

United States vs. Portugal


Setting the stage

Two lineup changes for the United States, after manager Vlatko Andonovski relied on the same starting XIs against Vietnam and the Netherlands. Rose Lavelle, the second-half hero in the draw against the Dutch, replaces Savannah DeMelo in midfield, and Lynn Williams replaces Trinity Rodman along the front line.

— It's fair to assume both changes have a lot to do with the USA's ability to press defensively, which was the team's biggest flaw against the Netherlands. Aside from standout Alex Morgan, who anchored the front line, the inexperienced wingers Rodman and Sophia Smith struggled to stay connected at the front of Andonovski's press when the Dutch built from the back, and Rodman in particular looked confused about her defensive responsibilities. Andonovski's halftime decision to introduce Lavelle helped solve the problem. Lavelle was a force defensively and ratcheted up the tempo by serving as something of an auxiliary center forward alongside Morgan. The addition of a fourth body into the front line of the press helped force turnovers and transition opportunities, as the U.S. gained a better foothold in the second half.

— Williams, who replaces Rodman, is making her World Cup debut in her 24th career start and 54th career appearance for the USWNT. At 30 years old, she is the ninth American to make her World Cup debut at this tournament.

— Midfielders Lavelle and Lindsey Horan both enter today's game on yellow cards. If either player picks up another yellow against Portugal, they'll be suspended for the Round of 16 should the Americans advance to the knockout stage.

What to watch for

— The Portuguese have relied heavily on the right side of their formation in the attack. While the United States has been more balanced with 39% of play down the left, 26% through the middle and 35% down the right (according to WhoScored), the numbers for Portugal are more slanted: 32% down the left, 24% through the middle and 43% down the right.

— The biggest statistical disparity between the two sides on the defensive end is in passes intercepted. The Portuguese are averaging just seven interceptions per game, according to WhoScored, while the Americans are averaging 14.5 per game. Forcing these kinds of turnovers, especially in the middle of the park, could be critical for the Americans to spark the kinds of counter-attacks that gave them success in the second half against the Netherlands. And the key figure in generating many of those breaks was Lavelle, who makes her first start of the tournament against Portugal.

— The United States has created very few shots from the right side of its formation in the first two games. Just 13% of shots have originated on the right compared to 65% through the middle, where Morgan and Horan have been the primary offensive threats, and 22% down the left, where the budding star Smith has created multiple scoring chances. It remains to be seen if the decision by manager Vlatko Andonovski to swap right-winger Rodman for Williams in today's starting lineup can create more offense down the right wing. Rodman was fouled in the box to draw a penalty kick in the opening game against Vietnam, but she's struggled to contribute meaningful chances outside that early opportunity.

'Blocking out the noise'

Smith and Lindsey Horan discussed the importance of staying focused as the tournament moves along, with the USWNT looking to achieve a World Cup three-peat.

Sophia Smith and Lindsey Horan talk about 'blocking out the noise' ahead of their pivotal matchup vs. Portugal

The two USWNT stars discuss staying focused ahead of their crucial matchup vs. Portugal in the group stage of 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup.

Horan, who scored the tying goal against the Netherlands in the USWNT's latest match, also shared her thoughts about coming out aggressively and establishing the tone early on against Portugal.

'We wanna come out on our front foot' - Lindsey Horan talks USWNT's matchup against Portugal

Lindsey Horan stopped by to talk with Jenny Taft about the USWNT's matchup against Portugal in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup. 

USA update

FOX Sports' Jenny Taft got fans ready with an update on the USWNT headed into Tuesday's match.

Jenny Taft provides an update on the USWNT ahead of the pivotal Portugal matchup

Jenny Taft provided an update on the USWNT ahead of the Portugal matchup.

World Cup "NOW" dives in

The "World Cup NOW" crew previewed the match live on social media ahead of kickoff.

FOX Sports' lead soccer analyst Alexi Lalas also shared his thoughts ahead of all the action.

Portugal's starting XI 

Check out the full Women's World Cup schedule how to watch each match live here. Find the latest scores here.

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