SheBelieves Cup: USWNT draw with England in close contest, 2-2

USWNT
NASHVILLE, TN — MARCH 02: United States midfielder Megan Rapinoe (15) and United States forward Crystal Dunn (19) celebrate a first half goal in the She Believes Cup match between the United States and England at Nissan Stadium on March 2nd, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

 Nashville, Tennessee (March 3, 2019) — The names on the back of their jersey’s were different, but there was no mistake that it was the U.S. Women’s National Team that drew with England on Saturday.

Honoring various women that they looked up to, members of the USWNT had different last names on their jersey’s. For instance, Alex Morgan donned the name of former teammate, Abby Wambach. Meanwhile, Crystal Dunn elected to represent Serena Williams. This was done in recognition of Women’s History Month.

USWNT draw with England in close contest, 2-2

Megan Rapinoe, who scored one of two goals for the USWNT, elected to pick Audre Lorde. Rapinoe blasted a shot past England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley. Rapinoe’s tally was the first of the match, in the 33rd minute. However, England didn’t keep quiet long.

Instead, just three minutes later, England found an equalizer.

Stephanie Houghton slipped England first goal past Adrianna Franch. The Portland Thorns FC goalkeeper made her first-ever appearance for the USWNT against England. She finished the match with one save.

Meanwhile, Franch did watch another goal get by the defense and herself. Nikita Parris gave England an early lead in the second half, scoring in the 52nd minute.

After a little bit of panic from the United States, veteran Tobin Heath managed to get her side on track. Heath scored her 26th international goal to give the United States a draw against a tough English team. Both sides are qualified for this summer’s upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Because of the draw, the United States will have a long road to win the SheBelieves Cup. The USWNT would need a draw between England and Japan, but would also need to beat Japan on goal differential.

Meanwhile, should there be a winner of the Japan and England match, that team would win the whole tournament. Japan defeated Brazil, 3-1, in Saturday’s opening match. England and Japan sit with four points each.

See the table below for reference.

Rapinoe still believes confidence is there

After the match, Rapinoe said that there are “great lessons” for the United States, but “we have to learn from them.”

“Obviously there’s a lot of things we need to fix from the last two games,” Rapinoe said. “We have to get better from them. We cannot keep making the same mistakes over and over again. There’s too many tactical errors and too many lapses. And we’re getting exposed for it. Going into the World Cup, it’s only going to get worse. We have to learn from those mistakes quickly.”

Meanwhile, Rapinoe said that draws against England and Japan — the United States let Japan also score two goals — aren’t knocking any confidence.

“I think we need to keep driving home to everyone that it is there, [the wins are there],” Rapinoe said. “We need to keep pushing. We were close at the end with a few of them. It’s not just going to show up, we have to make it happen. We have to tell the younger players to keep with it and stay in the game until the very end.”

Meanwhile, Rapinoe was blunt about why other teams are scoring goals.

“I think a few more tactical fouls in the middle of the field on some turnovers would be a good idea,” Rapinoe suggested.”I don’t know why everyone is hesitant on hacking someone down. You either win the ball on a turnover or you foul. Especially when you get into these types of games where counterattacks are going to be huge.”

Three Takeaways

  1. Don’t blame Adrianna Franch: Let’s all admit together that the first goal from England was bad. Adrianna Franch should have come off her line and made the save. However, remember this, too. Despite this being a World Cup year, the SheBelieves Cup is essentially a glorified friendly. Franch still has a better skillset than Alyssa Naeher and Ashlyn Harris. It’s comforting to see that Franch is above Harris on the depth chart. One loss shouldn’t banish Franch to the bench for the rest of the year. She’s been by-far the better goalkeeper, especially in NWSL play.
  2. What defensive unit can work? It’s hard to put Becky Sauerbrunn into a match for a full 90 minutes when she’s struggling with an injury. But, here’s a thought for head coach Jill Ellis: Why even put an injured player on the roster? Other players could have certainly taken that spot. Merritt Mathias was in training camp but didn’t make this roster. This is nothing against Sauerbrunn. But, if you have a healthy Mathias, why leave her at home for an injured player? Also, Casey Short is still on the bench. Ellis continues to make head-scratching decisions.
  3. Quit putting Carli Lloyd in every game: For the last two years there seems to be a negative trend the USWNT — or rather, Jill Ellis — continues to do. For almost every match, it seems like Ellis has this obligation to get Carli Lloyd into the match. Lloyd hasn’t been the same since 2016. Her glory days are over. She has been awful at the club level and internationally she’s not what she once was. This happens when you get older. But, instead of putting in Lloyd, there are other suitable options, like Samantha Mewis and McCall Zerboni. Players that have proven they can perform should be on the pitch.

SheBelieves Cup Table

What’s Next?

The USWNT will take on Brazil to wrap up the SheBelieves Cup.

These two teams have a lot in common — and not in a good way. Brazil has been struggling recently, despite having one of the best strikers in the world: Marta. However, Marta is only one person and there’s only so much she can do. Brazil’s SheBelieves Cup has provided zero points, with losses to England and Japan.

A win would spark some confidence. However, the USWNT could use a win, too.

The two sides will face off on Tuesday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. This contest will kick off at 8 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, the earlier match between Japan and England will kick off at 5 p.m. ET.

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