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USWNT vs. Brazil live stream, how to watch Gold Cup: Three things to know as USA aim for continental glory

The U.S. women’s national team are set to compete for a trophy on Sunday when they face off against Brazil (8:15 p.m. ET on Paramount+) for a chance to win the inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup.

This weekend’s finale serves as a meeting of two storied teams that are both in rebuilding phases after notably hitting rough patches at last summer’s Women’s World Cup when both sides had their earliest-ever exits from the competition. The USWNT and Brazil have naturally leaned on younger talent during this experimentation period, and so Sunday’s final will serve as a measuring stick for the progress of both programs during their refreshes as well as the status of several players as the Olympics near.

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From the USWNT’s perspective, the Gold Cup has served as a period of trial and error that is starting to deliver answers about which players currently make up the best version of the team. The final against Brazil will offer the latest set of data points for the USWNT coaching staff to work with, not only about the players’ tactical prowess but the group’s ability to continue the team’s reputation of winning.

Viewing info

Date: Sunday, March 10 | Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
Place: Snapdragon Stadium– San Diego, Calif. 
Stream: Paramount+
Pre-game coverage: CBS Sports Golazo Network at 7 p.m. ET

Here are three things to keep an eye on ahead of the big game.

1. Heroic Naeher locks down top spot

The USWNT coaching staff has primarily used the post-World Cup period to offer chances to less experienced players, but one veteran who has almost entirely escaped the conversation is goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. The 35-year-old has always been the presumed starter for the Olympics but a shaky performance in the team’s 2-0 loss to Mexico sparked some discussion about moving on to Naeher’s understudy, Casey Murphy. Naeher, though, promptly shut that down.

She made two crucial saves in the USWNT’s 3-0 win over Colombia in the quarterfinals but took things to another level in the team’s penalty shootout win over Canada in Wednesday’s semifinals. Though she conceded the penalty that served as Canada’s equalizer that sent the game to penalties with seconds on the clock, Naeher made three stops in the shootout and even converted a spot kick herself. She demonstrated an unparalleled amount of skill and resolve in that moment, showcasing that her experience is awfully valuable and leaving her teammates in awe in the process.

As Alex Morgan simply phrased it after the match, “I have never witnessed anything so remarkable as I did tonight with Alyssa.”

2. Brazil’s passing tests with flying colors

While the USWNT have had an up-and-down journey to the Gold Cup final, Brazil’s journey has played out in much more straightforward fashion. They have won each of their games so far and have conceded just one goal, scoring 15 times along the way.

It marks a solid start to life under Arthur Elias, who took over for Pia Sundhage after Brazil failed to advance out of the group stage at last year’s World Cup. They have also prioritized youth at this tournament, bringing just four players over the age of 30 and excluding Marta, who played a smaller role at the World Cup and has not ruled herself out of the Olympics but realizes it will be up to the coaching staff to decide.

Their goalscoring ability has clearly not lagged without Marta, and fascinatingly enough, Brazil’s attacking players have spread the wealth. No one has more than two goals right now, but question marks persist about how good they can be against a top-quality defense like the USWNT’s — a strength despite a recent rough patch. Brazil’s toughest game so far was arguably their 1-0 win over Colombia in the group stage; their 3-0 semifinal win over Mexico might have been more closely contested if Nicolette Hernandez had not picked up a red card in the 29th minute.

3. Results are in on USWNT’s experimentation

The USWNT may have treated the Gold Cup as a testing ground for the lion’s share of their player pool, but if one goes deep enough into any competition, the experimentation period is long enough to offer up some results. The hosts’ main priority on Sunday will be to win the Gold Cup, but the good news is that the coaching staff might already be able to call this exploratory phase a success.

Interim head coach Twila Kilgore made sweeping personnel changes for the quarterfinal against Colombia and reaped the rewards, with newcomer Jenna Nighswonger and veteran Morgan serving as standouts on that day. It prompted Kilgore to name an unchanged lineup for the semifinal against Canada, though no tactical analysis can be taken away from that match considering the incredibly waterlogged pitch the game was played on. Those two matches force the question, though: Is that the USWNT’s “win now” lineup?

It just might be, but the impact of Wednesday’s soggy conditions could mean that Kilgore will be forced to start some fresher players on Sunday. Her options are good ones — Emily Sonnett, Rose Lavelle, Olivia Moultrie and Sophia Smith were amongst those who did not start, while Nighswonger played just 45 minutes on Wednesday. As a result, the final accidentally offers one more chance for Kilgore to tinker and learn a bit more about the squad with the Olympics just four months away.

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