The U.S. Women’s National Team did not have the performance it was looking for in its SheBelieves Cup opener against Canada on Thursday, but did enough in the end to enjoy a winning start to the tournament.
Rose Lavelle’s 79th minute goal was enough to see the USWNT earn a 1-0 victory over Canada after a frustrating night at Exploria Stadium in Orlando.
Lavelle came on as a sub in the 64th minute and scored the goal by sniping a shot past a line of Canadian defenders screening goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe and inside the near post.
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The USWNT looked quite dominant at times during the game, but it just couldn’t get the final pass right and couldn’t bury its shots when it did. It had more shots and often had the better of the chances.
The USWNT defending did show a few weak points which resulted in Canada picking up a couple dangerous opportunities on the counter. Janine Beckie had a pair of wide open shots from close range that she put right into Alyssa Naeher in the USWNT goal.
Head coach Vlatko Andonovski went with a generous mix of youth and experience with his starting XI. Veterans Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd got the start alongside Catarina Macario and Lynn Williams up front. Midge Purce and Crystal Dunn started as wide defenders with more experienced Abby Dahlkemper and Becky Sauerbrunn in the middle. Julie Ertz and Lindsey Horan got the start in the center of midfield with Alyssa Naeher in goal.
A 64th minute triple substitution livened up the squad with Lavelle, Christen Press, and Alex Morgan replacing the inexperienced Macario and the somewhat sluggish looking Rapinoe and Lloyd.
Lavelle’s finish put the Americans in front for good as it defended the rest of the way for its first win of 2021.
The USWNT is in second place after the first round of games in the SheBelieves Cup. It next takes on Brazil on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET., who are coming off a 4-1 win over Argentina earlier on Thursday.