USWNT defeats Japan in SheBelieves Cup as Mallory Swanson scores game-winner
NASHVILLE – The U.S. Women’s National Team continued its pursuit of a fourth consecutive SheBelieves Cup title with a 1-0 win against Japan in front of 25,471 fans at Geodis Park in its second match day of the 2023 SheBelieves Cup. Mallory Swanson continued her scorching form with her 31st career international goal as she scored in her fifth consecutive game.
The USA padded its position atop the SheBelieves Cup standings and now has six points through two games with a plus-three goal differential. Japan is still searching for its first points of the tournament after falling to Brazil 1-0 on the opening match day. Brazil can match the USA’s six points with a win over Canada in the second match of the day.
U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski made five changes from the Starting XI that took on Canada on Feb. 16, switching Casey Murphy for Alyssa Naeher in goal, Naomi Girma and Sofia Huerta on defense for Becky Sauerbrunn and Crystal Dunn, Kristie Mewis in the midfield for Andi Sullivan and Lynn Williams in the attack for Trinity Rodman.
It was an important test for the partially revamped side, which featured seven players – Mewis, Huerta, Emily Fox, Alana Cook, Ashley Sanchez, Girma and Murphy – with fewer than 50 caps against a well-organized, skillful and feisty Japan squad. All but Mewis (49 career caps) have 28 caps or less.
The opening salvos saw a high-energy press from Japan unsettle the USA as they tried to play out of the back. From there, the match settled into a battle of field position as Japan attempted to create turnovers and turn them into scoring chances while the U.S. sought paths to connect with the midfield and forwards.
The first half saw Japan take six shots to the USA’s two but the Nadeshiko failed to muster any real danger against Murphy in the U.S. net. At the other end, Williams had the USWNT’s best chance of the opening stanza when her 15th minute cross nearly caught Ayaka Yamashita out of the Japanese goal, but the ‘keeper was able to get the slightest touch to the ball and tipped it onto the crossbar.
The U.S. was persistent in its attack and took the lead on the stroke of half time as Morgan sent Swanson behind the defense on the counter. Swanson deftly collected the ball and blazed past the defense before sliding the ball into the lower left corner to give the USWNT a 1-0 advantage at the break.
The second half saw a flurry of subs from both teams with Andonovski making six changes for the USWNT and his counterpart Futoshi Ikeda switching out four players for Japan. While the intensity Japan’s press eventually ran out of steam, the visitors forced the U.S. to work hard for the victory with a surge at the end.
The final 10 minutes saw Murphy’s strong goalkeeping preserve the clean sheet for the USWNT. After Fuka Nagano pinged a shot off the top of the crossbar in the 79th minute, Murphy made two quality saves to deny Yui Hasegawa and Jun Endo in the 81st and 92nd minutes, respectively, sealing the 1-0 win and the ninth shutout of her young career.
The USWNT now moves on to face Brazil (7 p.m. ET on TNT, HBO Max, Universo and Peacock) on the final match day of the SheBelieves Cup, while Japan will take on Canada (4 p.m. ET on HBO Max, Universo and Peacock). Both games will be played at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas on Wednesday, Feb. 22.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN:
USA – Mallory Swanson (Alex Morgan), 45th minute – Morgan expertly brought down a ball inside the center circle, turned up field and deftly lifted a pass into the path of a streaking Swanson. With a series of precision touches, Swanson raced past the final defender and into the penalty area where she picked out the lower left corner of the goal with a well-placed shot. USA 1, JPN 0
- Mallory Swanson is on a five-game scoring streak, the longest of her international career and the longest by any USWNT players since Christen Press scored in six consecutive games from Nov. 2019 to Feb. 2020.
- Swanson’s team-high six goals in four games in 2023 have already matched the second-most goals she has scored in any calendar year with the USWNT, trailing only the career-high seven goals she scored in 2022.
- Swanson’s goal was her seventh career goal at the SheBelieves Cup, moving her into a tie with Megan Rapinoe for the most goals scored by any player in the history of the SheBelieves Cup.
- With her assist to Swanson, Alex Morgan now has 49 career assists, moving into a tie with Carin Jennings Gabarra for 10th on the USWNT’s all-time assists charts.
- Casey Murphy made two saves to earn the shutout.
– 2023 SHEBELIEVES CUP MATCH REPORT –
Match: United States Women’s National Team vs. Japan Women’s National Team
Date: February 19, 2023
Competition: 2023 SheBelieves Cup
Venue: GEODIS Park; Nashville, Tenn.
Kickoff: 2:37 p.m. local (3:37 p.m. ET)
Weather: 60 degrees, cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
JPN 0 0 0
USA – Mallory Swanson (Alex Morgan) 45th minute
USA:18-Casey Murphy; 8-Sofia Huerta (14-Emily Sonnett, 46), 3-Alana Cook, 12-Naomi Girma, 23-Emily Fox; 22-Kristie Mewis, 10-Lindsey Horan (Capt.) (20-Taylor Kornieck, 85), 2-Ashley Sanchez (17-Andi Sullivan, 64); 6-Lynn Williams (5-Trinity Rodman, 64), 13-Alex Morgan (7-Ashley Hatch, 70), 9-Mallory Swanson (15-Megan Rapinoe, 70)
Substitutions Not Used: 1-Alyssa Naeher, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 11-Midge Purce, 16-Rose Lavelle, 19-Crystal Dunn, 21-Adrianna Franch
Head coach: Vlatko Andonovski
JPN:1-Ayaka Yamashita, 2-Risa Shimizu, 5-Shiori Miyake (19-Saori Takarada, 74), 4-Saki Kumagai (Capt.), 3-Moeka Minami, 15-Hina Sugita (13-Jun Endo, 67), 20-Aoba Fujino, 14-Yui Hasegawa, 8-Fuka Nagano, 10-Mana Iwabuchi (7-Hinata Miyazawa, 74), 9-Riko Ueki (23-Maika Hamano, 67)
Substitutions Not Used: 17-Shu Ohba, 18-Momoko Tanaka, 21-Chika Hirao, 6-Rion Ishikawa, 11-Rikako Kobayashi, 12-Ruka Norimatsu, 16-Honoka Hayashi, 22-Kiko Seike
Head coach: Futoshi Ikeda
Stats Summary: USA / JPN
Shots: 5 / 15
Shots on Goal: 2 / 2
Saves: 2 / 1
Corner Kicks: 1 / 7
Fouls: 6 / 4
Offside: 4 / 3
USA – Taylor Kornieck (Caution) 85th minute
Referee: Myriam Marcotte (CAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Mijensa Rensch (SUR)
Assistant Referee 2: Gabrielle Lemieux (CAN)
4th Official: Alyssa Nichols (USA)
Bud Light Woman of the Match: Mallory Swanson
2023 SHEBELIEVES CUP STANDINGS