The U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) opened the 2023 SheBelieves Cup with a convincing 2-0 victory over Canada in front of 14,697 fans at Exploria Stadium.
Mallory Swanson Scores Twice As USWNT Beat Canada 2-0 in SheBelieves Cup Opener
Forward Mallory Swanson continued her fantastic start to the year by scoring twice in the first half to extend her scoring streak to four straight games. The brace lifts Swanson to 30 international goals as she recorded her fifth career multi-goal game and her second such outing on the year.
In a series that dates back to 1986, the 64th meeting between the USA and Canada saw the reigning FIFA Women’s World Cup champions USA take on the reigning Olympic gold medalists Canada. While the last three meetings between the teams were decided by 1-0 scorelines, the USA controlled Thursday’s match from the opening whistle.
Report from USsoccer.com
Similar to its year-opening wins in New Zealand in January, the USA’s pressure and pace set the tone early. Just 12 seconds into the match, the U.S. nearly opened the scoring after defender Alana Cook sent a long ball into the attacking third which forward Alex Morgan, who was recognized prior to the match for her earning her 200th cap at the end of 2020, flicked on to midfielder Lindsey Horan. Horan advanced the ball to Swanson inside the penalty area and she took a quick shot from a tight angle on the left that Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan did well to save at the near post.
It was a sign of things to come from Morgan, Horan and Swanson, who caused Canada problems throughout the first half. Two minutes later, Morgan played a square ball from the center to the right side for on-rushing midfielder Ashley Sanchez, who ripped a shot from 22 yards that Sheridan saved with a diving effort to her left, tipping the ball spectacularly over the crossbar.
Horan was next to threaten, nearly finishing a good team effort in possession up of the field with a shot that was blocked two yards from the goalmouth by a defender. On its heels, Canada finally surrendered in the seventh minute when Morgan set up Swanson for a first-time shot that she tucked past Sheridan and into the lower left corner for the opening goal.
Highlighting the early pressure, in the first ten minutes of the match the U.S. had 50 touches in the offensive third compared to one for Canada. While Canada started to alleviate the pressure a bit with some good possession, but they could not completely contain the American attack. Horan nearly doubled the lead in the 17th with a powerful header off a cross from Cook that bounced off the outside of the lower left post. Forward Trinity Rodman also had a solid look and shot just past the half hour mark which Sheridan also saved.
Swanson Strikes Again
Swanson then notched her second of the night when she picked up an errant back pass from Canadian defender Vanessa Gilles – who was pressured by Morgan – and hit a first time shot past Sheridan from close range.
Canada’s best chance of the half – and game – came in first half stoppage time. Forward Janine Beckie attacked down the right channel and unleashed a hard shot from 22 yards, but USA goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher was up for the challenge, diving at full extension to her right to keep the visitors off the board. Naeher recorded three saves on the night as she registered her 52nd career shutout. Sheridan ended the night with five saves for the visitors.
The U.S. team could have been a bit more ruthless in front of the net, creating numerous chances after going up 2-0 to put the match to bed, but in the end, Swanson’s two goals would have to suffice.
Both teams used their full allotment of substitutes in the second half which saw the U.S. create even more offensively. The USA nearly added a third with 15 minutes to play when Horan sent a long ball up the middle that Kristie Mewis did well to control in the box before sliding a square pass over to fellow second-half substitute Ashley Hatch. Sheridan read the play and came quickly off her line to cut off the angle and block Hatch’s close-range shot.
Five-time SheBelieves Cup champions and winners of the last three editions of the tournament, the USA sits atop the standings after the first day of the 2023 SheBelieves Cup. Brazil also picked up three points in the opening match of the tournament, defeating Japan 1-0 on a goal from Kansas City Current star Debinha.
Level on three points each, the USA has the advantage over Brazil on goal differential heading into the second match day in Nashville. The USA will face off against Japan on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 3:30 p.m. ET followed by Brazil vs. Canada at 6:30 p.m. ET (see TV schedule here)
USA: 1-Alyssa Naeher; 23-Emily Fox, 3-Alana Cook, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 19-Crystal Dunn (14-Emily Sonnett, 46); 17-Andi Sullivan, 2-Ashley Sanchez (22-Kristie Mewis, 62), Lindsey Horan (20-Taylor Kornieck, 88); 5-Trinity Rodman (6-Lynn Williams, 78), 13-Alex Morgan (Capt.) (7-Ashley Hatch, 62), 9-Mallory Swanson (11-Midge Purce, 88)
Substitutions Not Used: 8-Sofia Huerta, 12-Naomi Girma, 15-Megan Rapinoe, 16-Rose Lavelle, 18-Casey Murphy, 21-Adrianna Franch
Head coach: Vlatko Andonovski
CAN: 1-Kailen Sheridan, 10-Ashley Lawrence, 3-Kadeisha Buchanan, 14-Vanessa Gilles, 2-Allysha Chapman (23-Jenna Hellstrom, 46), 17-Jessie Fleming, 7-Julia Grosso (8-Simi Awujo, 65), 19-Adriana Leon (20-Cloé Lacasse, 57), 12-Christine Sinclair (Capt.) (5-Quinn, 57), 16-Janine Beckie (21-Jade Rose, 76), 9-Jordyn Huitema (15-Evelyne Viens, 76)
Substitutions Not Used: 18-Sabrina D’Angelo, 22-Lysianne Proulx, 4-Shelina Zadorsky, 6-Gabby Carle, 11-Clarissa Larisey, 13-Sophie Schmidt
Head coach: Bev Priestman