An abysmally disjointed midfield and attacking performance almost knocked the USWNT out of the World Cup at the group stage early Tuesday morning. Defeat to Portugal wasn't even contemplated within the USA camp during the buildup to this one — the focus was instead on putting as many as possible past the tournament debutants — but as we entered second-half stoppage time at Eden Park in Auckland, the score remained 0-0.
A win or draw would send the USWNT through to the Round of 16 as group runners-up — the Netherlands secured top spot by hammering Vietnam 7-0 — but there was always the ominous shadow of an improbable Portugal win sending the back-to-back champs packing.
A goal for Portugal looked unlikely, but they had equally nullified the USWNT's attack with Sophia Smith, Alex Morgan and Lynn Williams all hugely ineffective up top.
However, in the first minute of eight minutes of second-half stoppage time, Portugal almost did it. A long ball forward was flicked through and Ana Capeta found herself through on goal.
The 25-year-old Sporting forward could've ended the U.S. and earned her nation the greatest upset in Women's World Cup history. It wasn't to be.
Portugal was this close pic.twitter.com/UMIZnAqyib— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 1, 2023
It doesn't get much closer than this pic.twitter.com/OdiVCvQkaY— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 1, 2023
Instead, the 0-0 draw sees the USWNT live to fight another day, and that day is Sunday, August 6, likely against Sweden.