The U.S. Women’s National Team continued the 2020 SheBelieves Cup with a well-earned 1-0 triumph vs. 2019 World Cup Round of 16 opponent Spain in front of 26,500 fans at a sold-out Red Bull Arena. Fresh off earning her 100th cap for the USWNT on March 5 against England, Julie Ertz scored a dramatic late winner in the 87th minute to lift the USA to victory.
As the final minutes melted away and match remained deadlocked, the USA pushed for a goal, and Lynn Williams was fouled on the left side, about 15 yards outside the penalty area and 23 yards from the end line. Christen Press served in a perfect free kick service straight to the head of the slashing Ertz for brilliant set piece goal that brought the sold-out crowd to its feet.
The win vaults the USA (2-0-0, 6pts) above Spain (1-1-0, 3pts) to the top of the SheBelieves Cup standings at the conclusion of the second matchday. In the day’s first game, England (1-1-0, 3pts) bounced back with a 1-0 win vs. Japan (0-2-0, 0pts), the USA’s final tournament foe. The U.S. can win its third SheBelieves Cup title with a win or draw vs. Japan on Wednesday.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN: USA – Julie Ertz (Christen Press), 87th minute: From near the left sideline, Press whipped a perfectly placed free kick into the left side of Spain’s penalty area. Having started her run outside the box, Ertz split two defenders and timed her jump perfectly to send a powerful header from eight yards away past Paños, who could not keep out the shot despite getting a glove to it. The ball flew into the upper left side of the net, sparking a wild celebration from the U.S. players and the fans.
There is no doubting that England were the better team for the majority of the game even though they never really got going. Beth England diid a good job up top but her poor finishing could have cost England. White came on and scored with her chance. It helped that Japan were pretty poor opposition, rarely testing Roebuck and even then it was from distance, eventually gifting England the goal.
Some utterly incompetent passing from Japan, sees the ball played straight to Duggan 20 yards from goal, she crosses for White who slots it into the corner. Finally some decent finishing!
Alex Morgan had an incredible tweet about the United States women’s national team’s win on Wednesday evening.
The USWNT beat Japan, 3-1, on Wednesday evening. The win gave the Americans the 2020 “SheBelieves Cup” championship.
USA’s win comes in the middle of a very public battle against the U.S. Soccer Federation. The USWNT is fighting for better play and overall treatment.
One of the arguments the U.S. Soccer Federation reportedly made against the USWNT is that the men’s game requires more “skill” and “responsibility.” Those remarks have been heavily criticized on social media for the past 24 hours.
The U.S. Women’s National Team beat Japan 3-1 to claim the 2020 SheBelieves Cup title – and third SheBelieves championship overall – in front of a sellout crowd of 19,096 fans. Megan Rapinoe and Christen Press scored magnificent first half goals that were followed by a late Lindsey Horan insurance strike to give the USWNT the victory.
The USA (3-0-0, 9 points) finished atop the tournament standings while Spain (2-1-0, 6 points), which was making its debut in the competition, defeated England (1-2-0, 3 points) 1-0 on a late goal in the 84th minute to finish second. England finished third and Japan (0-3-0, 0 points) rounded out the standings. Spain attacker Alexia Putellas was named the Visa SheBelieves Cup MVP after scoring twice in the tournament.
U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski shook up his starting XI with six changes to the lineup that began against Spain, bringing in goalkeeper Adrianna Franch and defender Tierna Davidson for their first action of the tournament as well as handing starts to outside back Kelley O’Hara, midfielder Lindsey Horan and forwards Christen Press and Tobin Heath.
The new lineup wasted little time carving out the lead as Horan was fouled on the edge of the penalty area as she dribbled toward goal. Rapinoe curled the ensuing free kick over the Japan wall into the top left corner to put the USA up 1-0 in the 7th minute.
In the 26th minute, Rapinoe intercepted a pass from Japan goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita and quickly played the ball to Press at the top of the box. She sent magical chip over Yamashita and into the net for joint team-leading seventh goal of 2020 to put the WNT firmly in the driver’s seat.
After Press’ goal, the USA has scored on both of its shots so far, and at that point, Japan needed four goals to knock the USA out of first place. While the perennial Asian power came out with renewed energy in the second half after the USA had the better of the play in the opening stanza, that was too big a mountain to climb.
The USWNT had its April friendlies canceled, and we can only speculate whether the Olympics will start on time, if at all. But for now, the SheBelieves Cup remains the best opportunity to assess where the USWNT is at ahead of a major tournament.
And the out-of-season USWNT looked good, comfortably beating England and Japan. Spain offered the toughest challenge, similar to the 2019 Women’s World Cup, but the Americans as usual found a way to win.
Now, despite uncertainty about how COVID-19 changes the months ahead, the focus shifts entirely to the Olympics in Tokyo this summer, where the USWNT will try to become the first team to win a Women’s World Cup and an Olympics in back-to-back years.
Here are the takeaways from the USWNT’s dominant SheBelieves Cup and the past week of craziness:
Christen Press needs to be on the field Coach Vlatko Andonovski is in an unenviable position. With a roster brimming with talent, he has to pare it to 18 players for the Olympics and then choose a starting 11 from that group.
But if anything became apparent over the SheBelieves Cup, it’s that Christen Press absolutely must play a significant role on the field. She can play as a winger, she play up top as a center striker, but no matter where Andonovski puts her, she will make an impact.
In all three games of the SheBelieves Cup, Press added to the USWNT’s goal tally, either by scoring herself or with an assist. She’s been sensational, not just in her ability to score impressive goals, but also her ability to read the plays and help her team in possession.
Vlatko’s style fits this USWNT It doesn’t seem like a Herculean task to get good performances out of the USWNT. Player for player, it may be the best team in the world.
But since Andonovski took over, to Press’s point, the attack has looked especially free-flowing and dynamic.
Andonovski’s coaching style in the NWSL has been possession-oriented, and he’s taken that to the USWNT, where they want the ball at all times. That means counter-pressing to win the ball back, using an aggressive set of pressing triggers to unsettle teams, and playing with the audacious fearlessness that has been a hallmark of the USWNT.
That’s not exactly a stark departure from Ellis, who also coached the team to be aggressive, albeit with more regimented demands on players. But one major difference is the consistency in Andonovski’s lineups and tactics.
Sure, Andonovski has given bubble players chances to play, but unlike Ellis, we haven’t yet seen any players thrown into unfamiliar roles or abrupt formation shifts. If Ellis was a bit of a tinkerer, Andonovski seems more set in what he wants to do.