In a friendly pre-Olympics showdown, Team USA outplayed 6th-ranked England to win the 2020 She Believes Cup opener 2-0. They played in front of 16,531 red, white, and blue fans in downtown Orlando’s Exploria Stadium on March 5th.
The nearly month-long, round-robin tournament includes formidable opponents for the USA, including Spain, Japan, and England. Japan and England—along with the U.S.—have qualified for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
After a 0-0 first half tug of war, USA’s crafty forward, Christen Press, scored a world-class goal in the 53rd minute of play to break the standstill. Player of the Match Carli Lloyd eluded her mark and delivered a pinpoint pass to Press, who reversed direction and bent the ball into the back of the net. “Just a beauty,” teammate Julie Ertz concisely said during her post-match interview of shot on goal. Ertz became the 40th USWNT player to earn 100 career caps when she started last night.
Minutes later, Rush Colorado alum, Lindsey Horan, chipped in with an assist that found Lloyd standing in the ready on the 18-yard line. The veteran converted the nifty loft pass into a convincing left-footed goal before England’s charging goalkeeper Carly Telford could swipe it away. Lloyd said the short punt that Horan delivered is a pass that they have attempted to master during their training sessions.
Horan played brilliantly, box-to-box, for the entire match. She has taken to Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski call for smart and aggressive two-way play. She was on near-constant attack throughout the game, moving the ball up the field and putting relentless pressure on England’s very capable footballers.
Her teammate and fellow Coloradan Mallory Pugh did not enter the game.
Working for the creative, yet demanding Andonovski has had its upsides for Horan and her teammates. ”He’s done incredible,” Horan said, ”He’s challenged us in a different way, in the way we’re playing and the things we’re trying to do. We pride ourselves in what he’s done with us and keeping our standards high.”
Team USA out-shot England 22-8. The USWNT’s suffocating defense limited England to only three shots on goal. Before this match, the U.S. had not beaten the Lionesses by two goals since the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, when the Americans won 3-0 in the tournament quarterfinals. In the 2019 SheBelieves Cup, a strong England squad tied the U.S. 2-2 in a match played in Nashville, Tennessee.
Earlier yesterday, Spain defeated Japan 3-1. The USA’s victory ties them with Spain in the Cup standings with three points.
The Lady Yanks will resume play on Sunday, March 8, facing Spain at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. The match will air on both ESPN and TUDN at 3 p.m. MT. Women’s soccer fans will also be able to watch the first game between Japan and England on ESPN3 at 12:15 p.m. View the entire schedule here.