Another game, another draw. Is it time to worry?
The USWNT was always in for a challenge at the 2019 SheBelieves Cup against the teams ranked No. 4 (England), 8 (Japan) and 10 (Brazil) in the world. But for the No. 1-ranked team, back-to-back draws showed the challenge may have been too much for the current U.S. team.
The U.S. and England traded incredible first-half golazos before settling for a 2-2 draw with England on Saturday in Nashville, Tennessee, three days after the USWNT opened the SheBelieves Cup with a 2-2 draw against Japan.
The Three Lionesses, who finished third at the last World Cup, looked every bit like a World Cup contender with goals from Stephanie Houghton and Nikita Parris. England beat Brazil 2-1 on Wednesday and now sits second in the tournament standings behind Japan on goal difference after the 2015 World Cup runner-up beat Brazil 3-1 earlier Saturday.
The U.S., while not in panic-mode just yet after one win in four to open 2019, will be worried about its inability to nab all three points, not to mention a defense that has allowed two goals in consecutive matches after going 13 games without allowing more than one goal.
The USWNT players didn’t wear their own names on the backs of their jerseys. Instead, to commemorate Women’s History Month, each player chose an inspiring woman to wear on her back. (See the full list/roster here.)
One crazy dreamer inspires the next. pic.twitter.com/GIs34MpZN0
Audre Lorde — no, wait, that’s Megan Rapinoe — put the U.S. on top in the first half when she rifled a vicious volley from the edge of the 18 to give the U.S. the lead in the 33rd minute.
The lead was short lived.
Goalkeeper Adrianna Franch received her USWNT debut after Alyssa Naeher was ruled out with a minor shoulder injury. NWSL fans will say this is a long time coming for the two-time reigning NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year, who became the first player from Kansas to earn a USWNT cap.
But she didn’t have a match to remember.
Moments after Rapnioe’s go-ahead goal, Franch picked up the ball on a back-pass, awarding England an indirect free kick in the box. It wasn’t quite Rob Green vs. the USMNT at the 2010 World Cup, but it was an inexcusable mistake.
After a lengthy delay, Houghton hit a beautiful curling shot into the far corner to equalize three minutes after going behind.
One heck of a shot for a center back.
Seven minutes into the second half, England led.
Parris took advantage of a lovely chipped pass from Fran Kirby to fire low past Franch in the 52nd minute.
After three substitutions and a fair amount of shifting of tactics and formation by Jill Ellis, the U.S. was able to equalize on a corner kick in the 67th minute.
The ball bounced around the box for what seemed like an eternity before Doris Burke Tobin Heath finally knocked it in. There were hints of a couple hand balls, but the ball ended up in the back of the net so it doesn’t really matter.
The U.S. pushed for a winner, Rapinoe had a late penalty shout (it wasn’t a foul) and England held on for the 2-2 draw.
Now the only way the U.S. can win its third SheBelieves Cup in its fourth edition is if Japan and England tie on Tuesday and the U.S. beats Brazil by at least three goals (or two with more goals scored).
Japan vs. Brazil
Japan beat Brazil 3-1 in the earlier match in the day, the highlight being this Yuka Momiki chip to open the scoring.
Though Brazil would equalize at 1-1, Rikako Kbayashi and Yui Hasegawa scored for Japan to secure the victory and send Brazil to a second straight defeat.
Japan or England can win the SheBelieves Cup with a win on Tuesday against the other. The doubleheader will be at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.