United States vs. Canada, SheBelieves Cup: Final Score 2-0 as Yanks Win at Exploria Stadium



Mallory Swanson scored a first-half brace to lead the United States Women’s National Team to a 2-0 victory over rival Canada in the first round of the 2023 SheBelieves Cup at Exploria Stadium. The Yanks jumped on the Canadians early and capitalized on their chances to grab first place after the first round of matches, slightly edging out Brazil due to goal differential.

With the win, the United States women improved to 8-0-0 at Exploria Stadium. With the U.S. men being 5-0-0 in the venue, the U.S. senior teams are a combined perfect 13-0-0 in the home city of Orlando City and the Orlando Pride.

“I think we played well together, first and foremost,” USWNT Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski said after the game. “And I think in order to win against a team like Canada, a good team, a top-level team, everyone has to put in a shift, whether you started or came off the bench — everyone. I was very happy with the approach in the game. I was very happy with the mindset. I was very happy with the performances individually of every player that was on the field, but also as a team.”

Andonovski’s starting lineup included goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher behind a back line of Crystal Dunn, Alana Cook, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Emily Fox. Andi Sullivan, Linsey Horan, and Ashley Sanchez played in the midfield behind a forward line of Trinity Rodman, Swanson, and captain Alex Morgan. Prior to the game, Morgan was honored for achieving her 200th career cap back in November.

The XI to begin the tourney. 🇺🇸

Full Lineup Notes » https://t.co/UwTPUrpJMu#SheBelievesCup, presented by @Visa pic.twitter.com/HAgTNmIXcM

— U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (@USWNT) February 16, 2023

The U.S. started off on the front foot and it paid off. Swanson fired a shot on target from the left just seconds after the opening kickoff but it was stopped by Kailen Sheridan. Sanchez fired from outside the area in the third minute that forced a good stop by Sheridan.

The Yanks grabbed the lead in the early seconds of the seventh minute. Rodman fizzed a cross through the box that found Morgan. She laid it off for Swanson, who blasted it through traffic and past Sheridan to open the scoring.

IN JUST THE 7TH MINUTE 🇺🇸@AlexMorgan13 finds @MalPugh who opens up the scoring for the USWNT! 🙌

(Via @USWNT)

— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) February 17, 2023

“One of our main goals was just to start fast and come out of the gates hot, and that’s what we did,” Swanson said. “And I think that it led to some momentum.”

Horan came close to doubling the lead in the 17th minute, nodding a cross off the left post as the USWNT kept up its relentless pressure in the game’s first half hour. That eventually did lead to the second goal — again through Swanson.

It started with a steal by Sanchez, who fed Rodman on the right. Rodman was clear for a shot but hit her effort straight to Sheridan. The Canadians tried to play out of the back and it went horribly wrong. As Morgan hounded Vanessa Gilles on the Canadians’ left side, the defender tried to play a pass back to Sheridan but didn’t get her angle right. Swanson read the play and pounced on the mistake, firing into an empty net to make it 2-0 in the 34th minute.

🇺🇸 @MalPugh reads the Canadian defense and capitalizes on their mistake to put the USWNT up two as she records her brace! ⚽️⚽️

(Via @USWNT)

— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) February 17, 2023

“I don’t know if I would say that’s what I expect, but that’s what I would want from her every game,” Andonovski said about Swanson’s clinical performance. “Two goals…it’s not just the two goals that occur, the player in the game just makes it look so easy sometimes. She plays so well individually, but we can see more and more now combining with the players around her.”

Canada got the last good chances of the first half on a corner kick. Jessie Fleming sent a corner cross into the box and it found the head of captain Christine Sinclair, but the forward nodded her shot just over the bar in the 43rd minute. The visitors nearly got on the scoreboard in first-half stoppage time, when Cook played a terrible pass that was easily intercepted by Janine Beckie. The Canadian forward dribbled toward goal and smashed a shot that was heading for the far side of the net, but Naeher was able to get over and make a big save to preserve the 2-0 lead heading into the break.

The United States held a slight advantage in possession over the first 45 minutes (52%-48%), but dominated in shots (9-2), and shots on target (5-1).

The second half wasn’t quite as crisp for the U.S., but the Yanks should still have built a bigger lead after halftime. After an uneventful first 20 minutes of the second period, the U.S. got a good set piece opportunity in the 67th minute. Horan got her shot over the wall but it was right at Sheridan.

Second-half sub blew a golden opportunity to add to the lead in the 75th minute. A great ball over the top found Kristie Mewis, who sent Hatch in alone. Hatch took an extra touch, then ignored the gaping right side of the net and tried to sneak a shot left of Sheridan but hit it right at the goalkeeper, who made the save with her foot.

Five minutes later, a fantastic cross from Horan on the left should have been headed in by Hatch, but she mistimed her lunge at the ball. Lynn Williams nearly bundled it in at the back post but it dribbled wide of the post.

The final 10 minutes of the match consisted of Canada sending hopeful aerial balls into the U.S. box but the Yanks were able to clear them time and again. Former Pride midfielder Taylor Kornieck and others prevented Canada from getting on the board as time wound down.

The USWNT maintained its 52%-48% possession advantage through the full 90 minutes and out-shot the visitors 14-6 (7-3 on target).

The four teams in the tournament will move on to Nashville for Round 2 of the competition on Sunday. The U.S. will face Japan and Brazil will square off against Canada. The event will conclude in Frisco, TX on Feb. 22 with Canada playing Japan and the U.S. facing Brazil.

Orlando Pride teammates Adriana (11) and Marta (10) played well in Brazil’s win over Japan.
| Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Brazil 1, Japan 0

In the early match, a goal by Debinha late in the second half was all that separated the two teams. The assist on the winning goal was provided by Orlando Pride forward Marta, just moments after stepping onto the pitch in her first competitive match since undergoing major knee surgery.

Pride forward Adriana started the match and played on the wing in the first half, swapping sides throughout the opening match and tracking back deep into her own end to help defend. In the second half, Adriana dropped into a central midfield role, showing her versatility by helping keep her side organized.

Japan and Brazil played a scoreless and mostly uneventful first half. Each side fired a couple of off-target shots early. Riko Ueki had the best chance of the half in the 12th minute, taking a centering pass and firing a shot that was blocked in front by the defense. Bia Zaneratto came the other way almost immediately for Brazil and fired from a tight angle on the left but Momoko Tanaka made the save. Risa Shimizu tried to flick home a deflected shot for Japan in the 37th but it skipped just wide of the right post. Japan had the better of the play late in the opening period but couldn’t generate clear-cut chances.

Japan out-shot the Brazilians 7-4 in the first half but Brazil got two of its efforts on target. The Japanese held more of the possession (52%-48%).

Brazil was much more on the front foot to start the second half. Debinha nearly got in behind just after the restart but the defense did just enough to force a corner kick in the 50th minute. Nycole fired a shot from the top of the box in the 54th minute that forced Tanaka into a diving save. Kerolin got a head to the ensuing corner but again Tanaka was there to make the stop.

Brazil broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute. Just four minutes after entering the game off the substitute’s bench, Marta set up on the left side of the box and found Debinha in front. Debinha hit her shot first time, scoring her 58th international goal. Marta picked up the assist.

Simply legendary 👑#SheBelievesCup | #PrideOrDie pic.twitter.com/7NfDlaXpzP

— Orlando Pride (@ORLPride) February 16, 2023

Japan had two golden opportunities to equalize in the game’s final 10 minutes. In the 80th minute, second-half substitute Maika Hamano stole the ball in the attacking third on the right flank. She found Rikako Kobayashi in front of goal but the forward fired her shot over the bar from near the penalty spot. Two minutes later, Hamano smashed a shot from the right that smacked off the crossbar. Brazil held on to capture the opener by a single goal.

The teams split possession evenly, with each holding it 50% of the time. Japan fired more shots (13-9), but Brazil put more on target (5-1).

2023 SheBelieves Cup Standings

Team (W-L-D, Points, Goal Differential)

  • United States (1-0-0, 3 points, +2)
  • Brazil (1-0-0, 3 points, +1)
  • Japan (0-1-0, 0 points, -1)
  • Canada (0-1-0, 0 points, -2)


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