Tobin Heath’s Unstoppable Strike Helps USWNT Finish Second At SheBelieves Cup

After two disappointing draws to open the SheBelieves Cup, the USWNT redeemed itself with its best showing of the tournament in a 1-0 win over Brazil on Tuesday in Tampa, Florida. 

The U.S. tied Japan and England 2-2, leaving little chance of winning the tournament for the third time in its fourth edition. 

England scored three first-half goals on the way to a 3-0 win over Japan to end all hopes of the U.S. winning. Instead, England claimed the SheBelieves Cup trophy, joining France and the U.S. as the only countries to win the competition. The U.S. finished second, Japan third and Brazil last. 

The Three Lionesses were the best team in the tournament all around and will be a real contender to win it all at the 2019 Women’s World Cup this summer in France. Both the U.S. and Japan showed why they’re Top 10 teams; Brazil, while not awful, has some work to do if it wants to make a deep run in France. 

The USWNT ended the tournament on a positive note, creating numerous chances and — most importantly — keeping Brazil off the scoreboard, the only team to do so in the tournament. The U.S. allowed multiple goals against Japan and England after going 13 matches without allowing two or more goals.

The U.S. lineup featured few changes from the first two matches, with Ashlyn Harris given an opportunity in goal and Sam Mewis replacing Rose Lavelle in midfield. Becky Sauerbrunn also started for the first time, and the 33-year-old’s veteran presence on the back line was clearly felt in the shutout. Harris made one big save in the 75th minute to keep the clean sheet and probably ensured her status as the No. 2 keeper after Adrianna Franch’s shaky start against England.

The win was just the second in five matches this year for the USWNT. Jill Ellis’ women had gone 28 matches without defeat until falling to France 3-1 to open 2019. 

Since the France loss, the U.S. has gone four unbeaten, but two were draws, albeit against two of the best teams in the world right now. 

USWNT vs Brazil Highlights

Tuesday’s match was physical right from the start.

The U.S. probably should’ve been awarded a penalty kick in the opening minute when Tobin Heath fed Mallory Pugh, who was bundled over in the box. However, the referee said play on. 

(Apologies in advance that these FoxSoccer highlights take you away from this page, because Fox hates soccer fans. The @USWNT highlights do not.)

The refs didn’t make any more friends when Megan Rapinoe was flagged for offside to negate a goal 10 minutes later. 

But in the 20th minute, no one was going to deny Tobin Heath. 

Heath ran a brilliant counter attack, dribbling a good 40 yards before teeing up Alex Morgan. Brazil goalie Aline did well to come out and deny Morgan, but the rebound fell to Heath, who smashed the ball into the upper 90, where none of the Brazilian defenders could reach the shot to keep it out.

The shot from behind the net shows just how perfect that shot was. 

After the goal, the U.S. continued to threaten regularly, but couldn’t find the final pass or clinical finish it needed. 

Morgan had a chance to head in her 100th goal in the 73rd minute, but her effort flew wide with the keeper out of position. 

Brazil had a strong run of play late in the second half in search of an equalizer, but Harris was up to the task, denying this headed effort and a free kick from her Orlando Pride teammate Marta in the 81st minute. 

In the end, a win and two draws at the SheBelieves Cup isn't the end of the world for the USWNT, but the team is currently far from the form that saw it win the 2015 Women's World Cup.

The 2019 Women's World Cup begins in 94 days.

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