Sophia Smith in action in the second half. (Jenna Watson-USA TODAY Sports)
The United States battled back from a one-goal deficit in the second half to record a 1-1 Group E draw with the Netherlands in the Women’s World Cup at Wellington Regional Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand on Thursday.
Lindsey Horan’s goal midway through the second half saved the Americans the embarrassment of suffering their first group stage loss in nine World Cups.
With the tie, the USA (1-0-1, 4 points) was the Group E leader over the Dutch (1-0-1, 4) due to superior goal differential (plus three to plus one).
The U.S. will meet Portugal in its final group encounter on Aug. 1.
The Americans struggled mightily in the opening half as it continued to go up the middle despite getting thwarted time and again, instead of trying to stretch the defense by crossing the ball into the middle of the box.
The Dutch chose their few opportunities well.
After the USA held a slight edge in the opening 10 minutes, the Netherlands struck on its first opportunity in the 17th minute.
A short pass from a teammate found Jill Roord at the top of the penalty area and she drilled a low shot into the lower left corner past the outstreched arms of Alyssa Naeher.
The Americans trailed in a Women’s World Cup for the first time since the July 10, 2011 quarterfinal match against Brazil. It also was only the seventh time they had surrendered the first goal of a WWC match.
Minutes after she was fouled by her Olympique Lyonnais teammate Danielle van de Donk, Horan exacted revenge by heading in a Rose Lavelle corner kick to equalize at the right near post in the 62nd minute.
The USA got its mojo back after the goal as it pushed forward with much more confidence. It tried for the go-ahead, especially over the final 15 minutes, but could not find the back of the net.