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Mallory Swanson Scores Again to Lead USWNT Over Dogged Japan 1-0

Colorado’s Swanson executes up top, while Lindsey Horan controls the midfield.

Mallory Swanson beats her mark and strikes the ball into the back of the net in the 45th minute.
John A. Babiak

Life is good for Mallory Swanson, both on and off the pitch. This afternoon, the swashbuckling winger continued with her great form by scoring in her fifth goal in five consecutive games.

Her breakaway goal in Nashville’s amazing soccer specific stadium- GEODIS Park against a smothering Japan side was her 31st career goal as an international player with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT).

The brilliant score brought nearly all 25,471 fans to their feet, when the ball found the back of the net in the second matchday of the 2023 SheBelieves Cup Tournament.

In the 45th minute of the tense dual, forward Alex Morgan smoothly brought down a ball inside the center circle. She pivoted, then turned up field and sent a volley pass towards Swanson who was already off to the races.

When she caught up with the ball, Swanson made four precision touches to bring the ball under control, then launched her shot at the lower left corner of the goal from within the penalty zone.

Swanson had just enough time to celebrate before the halftime whistle blew, and the Lady Yanks jogged into the tunnel with a collective sign of relief.

The US’s very clinical opponent came out charging and had the Stars and Stripes on their back heels for most of the first half.

The Yanks were far from on fire as they were against Canada in the tournament’s opener in downtown Orlando.

Head coach Vlatko Andonovski mixed up the line up from the start of the game, and perhaps that added to their imperfect play. The offense only got five shots off, two of which were at on target. In comparison, Japan was able to strike the ball 15 times.

U.S. keeper Casey Murphy stood strong for 94 minutes. She was successful in repelling Japan’s consecutive efforts to get the ball past her. In the second-half, she stopped several point blank shots that made the near capacity crowd roar.

Box-to-box midfielder Lindsey Horan was highly effective in her new role. She was the linchpin in the center of the field, both linking up passes from the back to the front trio, and then turning right around to pester Japan’s efforts to advance the ball up their half of the field.

Post-game Swanson stated “this game wasn’t the best performance but it’s going to be like that sometimes and Japan, they’re a good team. They’re very technical. They move off the ball very well.”

The deliberate Swanson added, “I think it’s good that we’re able to play them and see that we need to be more disciplined in our defending, be patient and then also we need to figure out what can we do to break them down. But sometimes though you’re just going to have to grind them out.”

But as it turned out, Team USA only need one goal to win. And once again, Mallory Swanson drew a crowd during her post-game presser.

Lindsey Horan directs her midfield teammates in the second half of a tenuous game with a relentless Japan team.
John A. Babiak

She 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 November 2019 to February 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.

Her goal was the seventh career goal at the SheBelieves Cup. The scorching blast moved her into a tie with veteran Megan Rapinoe.

The spiritual Swanson appears to be in a good place. She mentioned that she and her new husband, Dansby Swanson of Major League Baseball fame not only talk about their respective approaches to training and competitive play, but also about life in general.

For Swanson, who has experienced her fair share of setbacks and successes, talking about life, both near term and what the future could bring her is a good thing. It is also so well deserved for the hardworking Coloradan.

Swanson has been focusing on finishing her runs. And finish like a champ she did today. Applause, applause.

On Wednesday, the United States will face Brazil next at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. It will be the finale of the three-game tournament.