The SheBelieves Cup arrived in Frisco on Wednesday for its finale. Toyota Stadium was a sellout with 19,096 fans swarming on Frisco to see the US Women’s National Team’s first game in North Texas since the fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup was housed at the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
Spain 1-0 England
England head coach Phil Neville talked up the challenge of Spain as one of the top three or four teams in the European game in build-up to the game, but the frustration couldn’t be more apparent from Neville and his players after a disappointing afternoon in Frisco.
The game looked like it was going to end scoreless as strong periods of possession from both sides resulted in very little. Spain began to finally pressure England’s defense with ten minutes left to play, culminating in Spanish midfielder Alexis Putellas scoring a strong header from a Jennifer Hermoso corner. Putellas would go on to win the tournament MVP award.
England should have pulled level in stoppage time as Nikita Parris came free of her marker on an Alex Greenwood free kick, but the makeshift false-9 was unable to direct her shot on target – which would have been England’s only effort on frame.
The defeat left England with its seventh loss in 11 games since their run to the World Cup semi-final, and yet more pressure on former Manchester United defender Neville.
“It’s a disappointing way to end the tournament,” said Parris. “We haven’t been good enough ultimately, in the way we want to play we haven’t been good enough. Possessing the ball, playing out of the back, too many sloppy mistakes cost us.”
USWNT 3-1 Japan
The World Cup winners have been in the headlines as US Soccer bit back in the players’ lawsuit for equal pay with the men’s team. Acting on behalf of US Soccer, Brian Stolzenbach cited that the team have fewer responsibilities than their male counterparts. The USWNT made a symbolic gesture in their warm-up in Frisco, turning their training shirts inside out to obscure the US Soccer logo while showing the four stars representing the World Cup wins.
On to the game and it was business as usual. Lindsey Horan was hauled down just beyond the edge of the area. Horan suffered an injury to her right shoulder, which was iced up as the team departed.
“It sucks right now.” said Horan in regards to how her shoulder was and if she was likely to be substituted. “I think the gentleman helped me continue a little bit, so I’m a little sore right now, but um, we hope it’s fine.
“No, I looked at a minute and I was like, there’s no chance I’m coming out, and then I hear a lot of excitement. I’m more pissed because I missed Pinoe’s free kick and I still have yet to see it.”
Reigning Ballon d’Or winner Megan Rapinoe stepped up and smashed the resulting free kick into the top-left corner in the 7th minute.
Rapinoe turned provider in the 27th minute. Japan keeper Ayaka Yamashita attempted to pass out of the back only for the ball to fall straight to Rapinoe, who laid the ball off to Christen Press on the edge of the D. Press, receiving the ball with her back to goal, spun and chipped the ball over a helpless Ayaka Yamashita.
The Japanese didn’t count themselves out coming out from the break two down. The Americans were only able to clear a free kick barely outside the area, with a Japanese playing shooting through a crowd of players to force a double-save from Adrianna Franch before the play was blown dead for offside.
Japan were able to pull a goal back just before the hour through Mana Iwabuchi. The half-time substitute made a central run as Hina Sugita and Emi Nakajima played the ball across the box to leave the American defenders static.
With the Japanese momentum fading late in the game, the US added a third in the 83rd minute. A Mallory Pugh in-swinging corner was met by Lindsey Horan on the edge of the six-yard-box leaving Yamashita no time to react in the Japanese goal.
“The fact that we only got scored on once against three quality teams like this,” said US head coach Vlatko Andonovski. “I think that tells us a lot about our defending but at the same time we were able to score seven goals, so attacking wise we were good. We find a way to score goals, but I think that we can be a little more methodical and more efficient when we when we have possession of the ball and that will be our main focus.”