USWNT wins SheBelieves Cup, but still concerns for World Cup
The U.S. girls’s nationwide workforce claimed its sixth SheBelieves Cup trophy with a 2-1 win over Brazil on Wednesday.
Goals from Alex Morgan and Mallory Swanson, who was named event MVP, put the Americans in management for a lot of the second half, but Brazil pulled one again within the ninetieth minute from ahead Ludmila.
The USWNT went undefeated within the SheBelieves Cup after beating Canada and Japan in earlier video games. But now, the subsequent event on the calendar is the Women’s World Cup, which kicks off for the Americans on July 22 in New Zealand.
1. USWNT wins SheBelieves Cup, but now the World Cup awaits
The U.S. girls’s nationwide workforce did not even must win towards Brazil to safe its sixth SheBelieves Cup trophy — a loss by one objective still would’ve been sufficient for the Americans to complete atop the standings, and the USWNT cleared that low bar after which some with a win over Brazil on Wednesday.
Winning the SheBelieves Cup is sweet, and the American gamers have earned a pleasant little bonus cost for it, but finally this event largely exists to arrange the USWNT for the World Cup. To that finish, it would warrant a little bit of fear that the Americans by no means fairly put collectively a full 90-minute efficiency through the SheBelieves Cup, together with towards Brazil.
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As Crystal Dunn mentioned earlier than heading into the locker room for halftime: “It’s not our best half. We gave away some cheap balls, but it’s about resetting now.” The match end result and the event are marked down as wins for the USWNT, but — as Dunn recommended — the performances weren’t as confidence-inspiring, and the USWNT’s sluggish begin was palpable on Wednesday.
That is perhaps positive — profitable ugly counts all the identical as profitable in type, and lifting a trophy on the finish of the 2023 Women’s World Cup is all that issues. The USWNT would absolutely take its wins on the SheBelieves Cup over the worrying losses final fall to England, Spain and Germany. But the performances on this event do depart seeds of doubt, and the actual fact stays that the World Cup is a special beast than the SheBelieves Cup.
2. Brazil’s counterattack offers the USWNT a key check
Brazil actually had its probabilities to attain on the USWNT — virtually all of them got here from fast counterattacks, and normally with Kerolin slicing her method by the midfield.
That led to some nervy moments when American center-backs Becky Sauerbrunn and Naomi Girma had been caught alone attempting to maintain yellow shirts at bay as fellow defenders Dunn and Emily Fox had been remote upfield.
This is not a brand new concern for the USWNT, and earlier than the Americans received the World Cup 2019, it appeared just like the USWNT’s tendency to get caught overcommitting within the assault was its chief (and arguably solely) vulnerability. No one made the Americans pay in France at that World Cup, but that does not imply it wasn’t a threat that the Americans took. And that Brazil left the U.S. protection scrambling in transition the way in which they did gave the U.S. one more good stress check after Canada and Japan offered totally different challenges within the first two video games of the SheBelieves Cup.
To be clear, Dunn and Fox, the 2 American full-backs, are doing precisely what U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski needs from them. The Americans get ahead they usually have a really attack-focused method, even towards top-ranked groups, but if Brazil and specifically Adriana had simply completed their probabilities, this could possibly be a special postgame dialog.
3. What’s the Plan B for the USWNT?
Andonovski has spoken brazenly about his need to make use of this event to refine and ratchet up the depth of the USWNT’s press and counter-press. Alex Morgan’s objective within the third minute of first-half stoppage time gave a glimpse of why the USWNT’s press is so vital: Off a Brazil turnover, the U.S. transitioned rapidly, Mallory Swanson had a shot blocked, and Morgan picked up the rebound with a well-taken end that took benefit of Brazilian goalkeeper Lorena being caught off her line. Swanson’s objective within the second half additionally got here from a turnover.
But within the moments the press hasn’t labored towards groups like Brazil or, within the earlier match once more, Japan — when opponents have been capable of settle into their form and be affected person — the Americans have run out of concepts rapidly. When these areas have not been pried open by catching a workforce in transition, the USWNT usually resorts to taking part in direct excessive in a brute drive try, which typically can create one thing out of nothing but extra usually is an effective approach to lose the ball.
The return of Rose Lavelle from a muscle pressure damage may assist. She discovered seams to maneuver the ball into with various success towards Brazil, but usually crumbled underneath stress as Brazilian gamers converged on her. If she may be on her A-game in Australia/New Zealand this summer time and the American midfield can click on properly sufficient to maneuver the ball extra rapidly, that may assist open issues up for the USWNT. If not, the USWNT may discover it should want extra on the World Cup as groups shut down these areas, notably within the last third.
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Best and worst performers
Best: Alex Morgan, USWNT
No one on the USWNT can take a beating throughout a match like Alex Morgan can, and the USWNT relied on her to soak up a lot of the stress from a bodily Brazil aspect. Even earlier than her well-taken objective from outdoors the field, she had a would-be objective waved off that may’ve stood if a VAR evaluate had been potential. She does quite a lot of work that is not lauded, but deservingly acquired a objective to her identify.
Best: Mallory Swanson, USWNT
What extra is there to say at this level? No one on the USWNT is ending like she is lately and there is a purpose she was named the most effective participant of the SheBelieves Cup. She has eight targets in her previous six video games now.
Best: Kerolin, Brazil
She gave the USWNT again line suits together with her incisive dribbling and passing, and he or she was on the coronary heart of all of Brazil’s promising assaults.
Worst: Debinha, Brazil
The bar is excessive for the Kansas City Current ahead who has been among the best gamers within the NWSL and for Brazil, but she could not get into the sport and was subbed off at halftime after touching the ball solely 16 instances.
Worst: Trinity Rodman, USWNT
A bubble participant attempting to safe a spot on the World Cup, Rodman wasn’t constant sufficient to wrestle away the spot that opened up with fellow winger Sophia Smith lacking this event’s roster for damage. Although Rodman’s defensive work charge was good, and he or she is still an up-and-coming participant with a shiny future forward of her, on this evening she usually wasn’t capable of hyperlink up together with her teammates and ended promising assaults by shedding possession.
Worst: Adriana, Brazil
She had the probabilities, but she simply could not end them. Ultimately, that will have been the distinction on this match. Swanson and Morgan are dependable finishers, and Brazil simply did not have that when it wanted it. That, in fact, doesn’t all fall on Adriana, but she have the most effective probabilities on the evening.
Highlights and notable moments
Alex Morgan scored the USWNT’s opener on the finish of first-half stoppage time.
The USWNT received the ball within the midfield and sprung into transition, with Mallory Swanson taking a shot that was blocked. Morgan collected the rebound simply outdoors the field, swiveled round and struck for a splendid end.
😱 HOLY COW, @ALEXMORGAN13 pic.twitter.com/t9KkfIAegn
— U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (@USWNT) February 23, 2023
Mallory Swanson doubled the USWNT’s lead within the 63rd minute.
Again, the USWNT pressed and received the ball within the midfield after which transitioned towards Brazil’s objective. Rose Lavelle laid it off to Swanson, who positioned it properly.
Mallory Swanson does it once more!
📺: @NBCUniverso & @peacock for Spanish Coverage#SheBelievesCup | #USWNT pic.twitter.com/LpyXNFm51H
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) February 23, 2023
In the ninetieth minute, Brazil pulled a objective again.
Bruninha lofted an extended ball to the far submit and Ludmila headed it previous USWNT goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.
After the match: What the gamers and supervisor mentioned
U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski on profitable the SheBelieves Cup: “I don’t think we’re going to talk a lot about the title. We’re actually going to talk a lot about the play and the details and we’re going to use these games in preparation for the World Cup. That’s what’s good about this, not necessarily the title. We enjoy winning the title, but it’s the outcome of this game is what is more important for us. The whole time throughout the tournament while we’re in camp, we’re talking about how it’s not just about this tournament, it’s about preparation for the World Cup.”
Mallory Swanson on Brazil taking part in very bodily and urgent: “Yeah, I just remember before the game, Vlatko said ‘Expect that it’s going to happen, expect that they’re going to come out hard.’ We did that and we weren’t on our heels. There were definitely times that they had transition and they were running at our goal, but I think that helped me going into the game expecting that and expecting it’ll be a dogfight, you could say.”
Swanson on profitable the SheBelieves Cup and the expertise for gamers: “The first game [against Canada], we started off really fast. Against Japan, we didn’t start off as fast but we still found a way, and today we just kind of controlled the game. Brazil is a great team and they have really crafty players. Overall, it’s just a really good experience for everyone, especially some of the younger girls who don’t have as much experience — they played a lot of minutes. Especially Foxy [Emily Fox], she played outstanding this tournament. Lindsey [Horan] played outstanding — she played almost three 90-minute games back-to-back-to-back. So, there are definitely some people who stepped up big-time and it’s going to take that.”
Swanson on understanding opponents increase their stage to play the USWNT: “If you shift your mindset, that’s exciting. We’re going to get everyone’s best game, and if we go out and put our best performance out there — sometimes we’re not going to be able to, sometimes it’s going to like against Japan a grind — but it’s exciting that we’re going to get everyone’s best game and we can ultimately play our game and continue to work on us and the details and continue to grow.”
Key stats (supplied by ESPN Stats & Information analysis)
Alex Morgan scored her first objective from outdoors the field for the U.S. since June 19, 2014, vs. France.
Morgan has scored or assisted in every of her 4 appearances for the U.S. in 2023.
Mallory Swanson’s six-game scoring streak is the longest by a USWNT participant since Christen Press scored in six straight from November 2019 to February 2020.
Swanson has scored half (7/14) of the targets by the USWNT in 2023. Rose Lavelle and Alex Morgan are the one different gamers with a number of targets (two every).
Ludmila scored the primary objective that the U.S. has conceded in 5 video games in 2023 — the U.S. had received its first 4 video games by a mixed 12-0 earlier than Wednesday’s match.
United States: The USWNT has yet one more worldwide window left till the Women’s World Cup. The video games in that window in April haven’t but been introduced by U.S. Soccer, but reviews counsel it will be a pair of video games towards Ireland on April 8 in Austin, Texas, and April 11 in St. Louis, Missouri. The USWNT’s World Cup begins on July 22, when the Americans face Vietnam of their event opener in New Zealand.
Brazil: The Brazil WNT will face England within the Women’s Finalissima, which pits the Copa América Femenina winner (Brazil) towards the winners of the Women’s Euro (England). That match will happen at Wembley on April 6. Then Brazil’s World Cup begins on July 24.