The SheBelieves Cup Match Day 2 doubleheader games were played in front of a sellout crowd at the Red Bull Arena (Harrison, NJ) on March 4. Despite the freezing temperatures, 26.500 soccer fans showed up to experience world class soccer. Fans also experienced a special ceremony honoring New Jersey’s legendary Christie Rampone’s soccer career.
France and Germany played first on Match Day 2, and although it was a game full of action with opportunities for both teams, the game ended up scoreless.
By the time 5:00pm came, the temperature had dropped to about 28 °F but the Red Bull Arena was at max capacity. Players from the USWNT and England were headed to the locker rooms to get ready for kick off after intense warm ups.
2017 #SheBelievesCup. Round 2. Let’s get it.
Introducing your Starting XI for #USAvENG.
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) March 4, 2017
In the first half the USA had a few great opportunities. At the 16th minute Krieger cuts from the middle with a short pass to Horan that ended up in England’s goalie, Chamberlain’s hands. Only 3 minutes later, Crystal Dunn crossed the ball to Lavelle which was denied, once again by a spectacular save by Chamberlain. England needed to react to stay in the game. Only this time was Harris’ time to shine and denied Nikita Parris’ shot on goal. Great performances by both goalies that left a first half 0-0.
The second half was balanced between both teams. The US players connected great plays. Lavelle and Pugh passing game on the left wing was on point. Horan was confident and provided support for Lloyd in the midfield. The defense was solid with Sauerbrunn, Johnston and Krieger. England’s Houghton, Parris and Duggan put some pressure on the US. And when we thought the game as going to end up with a tie, the goal for England came at the 89th minute. A corner kick cleared by Heath that felt short, gave Bronze the opportunity to strike a shot on goal that hit the post. This created confusion for the US defense and Ellen White finished the play by putting the ball in the net. With only 3 minutes left of stoppage time, there was little the US players could do to try to tie the game, falling 1-0 to England.
Head coach Jill Ellis made several changes from the starting 11 from Game 1 against Germany. There was a much younger USWNT on the field able to create opportunities; which is an important factor for the team to grow.
On a press conference after the game, Ellis emphasizes on the key aspect of learning from the loss. “Sometimes you do not learn about the details of the game and how important they are, unless you unfortunately, sometimes, pay a price.” Ellis said. “When you fail, the lesson hits home harder.”
For midfielder Rose Lavelle, this game was a special one. Lavelle was Boston Breakers’ first overall pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft and this was her debut night. Excellent performance overall, and she almost ended up with a goal. “I think I hit it right at the goalie,” Lavelle said. “I wish I could have buried that one.” Coach Jill Ellis was happy with Lavelle’s performance. “She was fantastic.” Ellis said. “It was her first cap. Five minutes of nerves, then she settled into the game and she was one of the best players in the part.”
England definitely deserves credit on their win. They played hard, enjoyed their victory and now have the possibility to win the SheBelieves Cup. “The longer the game went on, the stronger we got.” England’s Head Coach, Mark Sampson said. “That showed with the winning goal at the end.” Sampson added. “Now we start to have a winning mentality.”
Day 2 Standings
Game 3 Ahead
The question now is: What is ahead for the USWNT on Game 3? Do they still have a chance to take home the Cup?
Short answer is yes, the US could still win the Cup but they would need to first focus on getting the three points against France. To sit comfortably in first place, they would also need Germany to win against England.
There are many ways the results could turn up. One of them is a positive result for the USWNT.