Olympic gold medallists USA needed to come from behind to secure a 2-1 victory against Australia on Sunday at the Home Depot Center in California.
The match was the second for the United States since their London 2012 triumph, and the first of a two-match series against the Matildas.
Australia’s youthful line-up started brightly and held a 1-0 half-time lead thanks to a Lisa De Vanna goal on 34 minutes.
The Aussies also hit the woodwork through Sarah Walsh and Teigen Allen, with USA’s Megan Rapinoe doing likewise just before the interval.
The home side, much to the joy of nearly 20,000 fans enjoying the early autumn sunshine, drew level through Alex Morgan ten minutes after the break.
Australia goalkeeper Brianna Davey pulled off several excellent stops, despite the 17-year-old making just her second international appearance, only to bring down Morgan after being left exposed by an incisive Tobin Heath pass. Shannon Boxx tucked away the penalty for what proved to be the winner on 63 minutes.
“You have a little bit of luck, but I would also say that it turned around and the fact that we created chances near the end of the first half, we gained some confidence,” said USA coach Pia Sundhage on her team’s first half showing.
“I understand it’s hot out there. I said at half-time that speed of play doesn’t mean you have to run more, but you have to make a quicker decision. I think they did, with the subs and everything, they did well. I’m so proud of them.”
Despite the scoreline Australia coach Tom Sermanni expressed his delight at the performance of his rapidly evolving side, with the Matildas concluding the match with eight teenagers on the field.
“It was a very promising performance, I was really delighted with how the players played, with how they kept to the principles that we’re trying to instil in them and how we want to play,” said Sermanni.
“I think, particularly the first 45 minutes is as good a 45 minutes as I’ve seen our team play, probably since the World Cup last year.
“When you consider we had five teenagers on at the start and eight at the finish, overall it was an outstanding performance. It just shows a lot about the Australian character I think.
“We had a 17-year-old goalkeeper playing her second international, we had a significant road trip to get here, the environment was for the victory tour for the US, against an extremely experienced and outstanding team.
“To come here and for the players to put on the performance that they did, doesn’t just say anything about their ability, but it says a lot about their character as well.”
The two teams will meet again on Wednesday in Denver in Sundhage’s final match after five years at the helm.