USWNT repeats SheBelieves Cup success in Frisco

For the third time, the United States Women’s National Team lifted the SheBelieves Cup at Toyota Stadium on Wednesday night.

In the early game at Toyota Stadium, Japan eased past Canada 3-0. The result finished off a dismal week for the Canadians that began with a player strike over budget cuts for the national team program, and ended with losing backup goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo to injury.

The Samurai Blue scored their first goal of the SheBelieves Cup through Kiko Seike in the 28th minute. Yui Hasegawa and Jun Endo added goals either side of half time.

After a quiet start to the feature game, the visitors threatened to play spoiler on the half hour mark. Brazil broke clear from deep in their own territory with the ball at the feet of Bia Zaneratto. Crystal Dunn was caught up field leaving the Americans defending against the numbers, Becky Sauerbrunn committed to the ball carrier leaving a wide berth on the right for Kerolin. Alyssa Naeher scrambled across the goal line but the shot cleared the far post.

Alex Morgan had the ball in the back of the net in 45th minute. An effective press in the midfield resulted in a through ball for Morgan to race on to. The 204-cap forward placed her chance between the legs of Lorena but the play was flagged offside. Morgan wouldn’t need long to correct that, after recovering a blocked shot on the edge of the area in the third minute of stoppage time. With Lindsey Horan racing clear on down the left, Morgan curled a left-footed effort beyond Lorena’s reach.

Both teams endured scares early in the second half. Adriana blasted a shot off the bar that had Naeher beat in the 49th minute before Morgan forced Lorena to tip the ball clear with a heel flick at the front post three minutes later.

The 58th minute saw the introduction of Marta to a warm reception. The Brazilian great immediately found herself standing over a dead ball 30 yards from goal, but the Yanks dealt with a couple of Brazilian chances.

Mallory Swanson – formerly Pugh – became the first player to score in all three rounds of a SheBelieves Cup in the 63rd minute. The tournament MVP was fed through by Rose Lavelle at the top of the box before unleashing a low shot into the far corner. The American press once again working a treat as Lavelle won possession in the Brazilian half.

The 17,784 strong crowd in Frisco wasn’t the most animated througout the game, but came to life for the substitution of Megan Rapinoe in the 71st minute. The 2019 FIFA World Player of the Year replaced Swanson.

Substitute Taylor Kornieck had a golden opportunity to increase the lead in the 88th minute. Ashley Sanchez cut the ball back from the end line, but the midfielder playing a more advanced role than usual sent her first-time effort clear of the trophy podium that was being set up on the north end stage.

Brazil did get a consolation in the 90th minute as Ludmila powered a header past Naeher off a cross from Bruninha. The goal was the first conceded by the USWNT since April of last year, with almost 20 hours of soccer played since.

Ultimately it was the Americans’ night lifting the trophy, and coming through an important pre-World Cup test, to one of the more impressive pyrotechnic displays Toyota Stadium has ever produced.

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