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USWNT Beat Japan In SheBelieves Cup

The U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) opened the 2024 SheBelieves Cup with a thrilling 2-1 win against Japan in front of an energized crowd of 50,644 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The crowd set a record for the highest attendance ever for a USWNT friendly on home soil and marked the largest home crowd for any USWNT match since the 199 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final. Goals from forward Jaedyn Shaw and midfielder Lindsey Horan led the team to a come-from-behind win in U.S. Soccer’s new home city.

Jayden Shaw and Sam Coffey celebrate scoring for USWNT
Jayden Shaw and Sam Coffey celebrate. Photo by Jordan Godfree - USA TODAY Sports

USA 2 Japan 1

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First Half

Japan shocked the USA off the kickoff, taking the lead just 31 seconds into the match with a goal from Kiko Seike, who got on the end of a long ball on the right flank, dribbled into the penalty box, and fired a shot that bounced off the left post into the back of the net. The U.S. did not let the early goal fluster them and went on to out-shoot Japan, 18-6, while creating the vast majority of the dangerous chances.

The USA pressured the Japan defense all match, connecting well throughout the back line and the midfield with the front line of Alex Morgan, Trinity Rodman and Mallory Swanson – who played her first USWNT match in 364 days – all causing danger inside the penalty area. The USA came close to equalizing in the 15th minute as Swanson put on a great dribbling display by cutting across the box from right to left and firing a low shot that was destined for the back of the net, but a heroic goal line clearance from defender Miyabi Moriya held the visitors’ lead.

The Americans then got the equalizer in the 36th minute as midfielder Sam Coffey won the ball off the team press at the top of Japan’s defensive third. Coffey split two defenders with a pass to find Shaw at the top of the box and she fired a powerful strike from 20 yards out into the lower left corner, freezing Japanese goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita, to level the score.

USA defender Casey Short and Japan midfielder Aoba Fujino. Photo by Jordan Godfree - USA TODAY Sports

Second Half

As the energetic crowd spurred on the Americans, who were more dominant throughout the second half, the team continued to threaten in the attack while effectively limiting Japan’s. After several knocks at the door, the USA took the lead in the 77th minute when Horan buried a penalty kick following a foul on Sophia Smith inside the box. Smith came off the bench in the 63rd minute to spark the U.S. attack and played a part in several scoring opportunities before splitting two defenders inside the penalty area near the right corner to earn the spot kick.

With the conversion, Horan has now scored three goals in her last four games, each of which have been game-winners, including her tally that sealed the team’s title win in the inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup Final.

The U.S. lost central defender Naomi Girma to a right thigh injury just 18 minutes into the game and she was replaced by Abby Dahlkemper, who played a fine match in her stead next to Tierna Davidson, who was also stellar on the afternoon.

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Next Game

The USA will play in the tournament final against Canada as it looks to take its fifth consecutive SheBelieves Cup title and seventh overall. The USA will play on Tuesday, April 9 at Field in Columbus, Ohio (7 p.m. ET; TBS, Universo, Max, Peacock). The third-place match between Brazil and Japan will take place prior to the final at 4 p.m. ET.


Lindsay Horan in action for USWNT against Japan
Lindsay Horan in action during the first half. Photo by Jordan Godfree - USA TODAY Sports
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