Look at the recaps of the past six unbeaten games for the Houston Dash and there's a certain Brazilian flare to them. While the Dash have moved up the standing sheet, a big part of their resurrection has been the play of their South American imports; who have served up creative play and scoring.
Now two of the three Brazilians; Andressinha and Bruna Benites are looking to duplicate that play with their country under a new coach, Emily Lima; will face the familiar ambition of stepping up on the world stage.
"We're in a transition period. We've got a new coach and are bringing in a new generation," Benites said through a translator. "It's going to be interesting to see how we match up, but our goal is to play the Brazilian way. That's the mentality we're going into [the Tournament of Nations] with."
Taking part in the Tournament of Nations, Brazil is off to a good start with a 1-1 draw with Japan to begin the ‘friendly' tournament. Andressinha and Bruna are likely to suit up against a U.S. team on Sunday with familiar faces and something to prove.
Of the pair, Andressinha has been at her best in recent months. She's tallied a goal and an assist in recent weeks while providing a dynamic presence on the field bringing an ability on the ball that can help unlock a defense.
"Changing the shape allowed her to get a little more freedom and roam and get good looks," head coach Omar Morales said about the 22-year-old Brazilian who has flourished in his system. "The other part of it is her confidence. A player of her caliber with confidence, the sky is the limit.
"I think [Bruna, Poliana, and Andressinha] just feel a little more comfortable the last few games and are playing to their abilities," Morales continued. "I think they're just now being a little more free and more comfortable with their roles….it allows them to be a little more free and enjoy the game more."
With the group finding their feet with the Dash, the game plan for the tournament is to translate the good play to a Brazil team that's looking to usher in a new era. With Lima, Brazil's first female boss, at the helm, the feeling around the team is to get in a groove quickly.
"She brings a few different things to the table being a former player," Benites said of Lima. "She knows the dynamics, and she's a great soccer brain. She is able to tell us very specifically what she wants from us on the field. We feel she's qualified and will raise the level of Brazilian football starting with this tournament."
Benites has seen a different experience from Andressinha this season. She arrived in Houston to start the 2017 as an anchor of the defense and has started five games, appearing in eight, but a knee injury cost her six weeks. The defender said before leaving for the tournament that she was at "90 percent" but felt confident she would be ready to go. Against Japan, she came on as a second half sub and played the final 45 minutes while Andressinha played the full shift.
"With any tournament, you want to win it, and we've got great competition between Australia, Japan, and the U.S.," Andressinha said. "We know it's going to be a tough task. For us, it's about competing for the top spot, and we've got the players to do it."