After a full week of training in Tampa, Florida, Team USA kicks-offs the 2019 SheBelieves Cup Tournament this evening with a match against World Cup-bound Japan at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania. In addition to hosting 8th-ranked Japan, the U.S. Women’s Nation Team (USWNT) will play 4th-ranked England and 10th-ranked Brazil over the next week.
Soon thereafter, the Lady Yanks will embark on a coast-to-coast send-off tour called the Countdown to the Cup. The USWNT will play five opponents through late May (they’re playing against Australia in Colorado in April), when the team is scheduled to depart for the World Cup in France.
The SheBelieves Cup tournament format will be the same as previous years, with games in Chester, Pennsylvania, Nashville, Tennessee, and Tampa, Florida.
Head Coach Jill Ellis called in 28 players for training camp earlier this month, which was made of the 23-player SheBelieves Cup roster along with four players that trained with the team (GK Jane Campbell, defenders Merritt Mathias and Emily Fox, and midfielder Allie Long).
The USWNT reached an impressive milestone on November 8, 2018, reaching the 500th win in program history with a 1-0 victory against Portugal. Since its inception in 1985, the USWNT has earned a record of 502 wins, 66 losses, and 74 ties. Over the history of the program, the USA has gone 282-28-20 at home, 52-14-17 away, and 168-33-28 on neutral ground.
A loss to France on January 19, 2019 snapped the USA’s remarkable unbeaten streak at 28.
Colorado’s Horan and Pugh
Midfielder and former Colorado Rush star Lindsay Horan has been ruled out of the SheBelieves Cup due to a quad injury. She was in the Tampa camp for rehabilitation and is expected to rejoin the team soon.
Ex-Real Colorado forward Mallory Pugh is available and expected to get considerable minutes during the tournament. She has earned a firm spot on the team’s roster as she has been a success since joining the senior team in 2016.
Pugh doubled her career goals in 2018, finding the next six times, and scored the USA’s first goal of 2019 against France on January to up her career total to 13. Since her debut, Pugh has earned 45 caps and has been one of the USA’s most dangerous players, mostly attacking from the wings.
USA vs Japan
The two countries met in three consecutive finals in recent years: the 2011 Women’s World Cup, the 2012 Summer Games, and the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Japan is one of seven countries to have qualified for every Women’s World Cup, but they had a difficult time qualifying this year and missed out on the 2016 Summer Games. The team has gone through a rebuilding phase, bringing in many young players but balancing out the roster with quite a bit of experience.
The US and Japan have been rivals since 1986 and the games between these two teams have been among the most-watched in women’s soccer history. They met in Colorado on June 3, 2016, and played to an exciting 3-3 tie, but most recently played each other at last year’s Tournament of Nations. The USWNT won 4-2, with Alex Morgan scoring a hat trick and Megan Rapinoe adding the fourth.
Morgan is quickly approaching her 100th goal (she currently has 98) and that will surely be in the back of her mind during the SheBelieves Cup.
The US has an all-time record of 28-1-7 against Japan.
How to Watch
Match Date/Time: Wednesday, February 27th at 5 p.m. MT
Venue: Talen Energy Stadium—Chester, PA
Live on TV : FS1
Check local viewing events hosted by your local @AmericanOutLaws chapters:
Our very own Jordan Angeli will be at the matches, so keep an eye on her Twitter @JordanAngeli for updates and behind-the-scenes looks.