US wins 2020 SheBelieves Cup with 3-1 victory over Japan

The U.S. Women’s National Team beat Japan 3-1 to claim the 2020 SheBelieves Cup title – and third SheBelieves championship overall – in front of a sellout crowd of 19,096 fans. Megan Rapinoe and Christen Press scored magnificent first half goals that were followed by a late Lindsey Horan insurance strike to give the USWNT the victory.

The USA (3-0-0, 9 points) finished atop the tournament standings while Spain (2-1-0, 6 points), which was making its debut in the competition, defeated England (1-2-0, 3 points) 1-0 on a late goal in the 84th minute to finish second. England finished third and Japan (0-3-0, 0 points) rounded out the standings. Spain attacker Alexia Putellas was named the Visa SheBelieves Cup MVP after scoring twice in the tournament.

U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski shook up his starting XI with six changes to the lineup that began against Spain, bringing in goalkeeper Adrianna Franch and defender Tierna Davidson for their first action of the tournament as well as handing starts to outside back Kelley O’Hara, midfielder Lindsey Horan and forwards Christen Press and Tobin Heath.

The new lineup wasted little time carving out the lead as Horan was fouled on the edge of the penalty area as she dribbled toward goal. Rapinoe curled the ensuing free kick over the Japan wall into the top left corner to put the USA up 1-0 in the 7th minute.

In the 26th minute, Rapinoe intercepted a pass from Japan goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita and quickly played the ball to Press at the top of the box. She sent magical chip over Yamashita and into the net for joint team-leading seventh goal of 2020 to put the WNT firmly in the driver’s seat.

After Press’ goal, the USA has scored on both of its shots so far, and at that point, Japan needed four goals to knock the USA out of first place. While the perennial Asian power came out with renewed energy in the second half after the USA had the better of the play in the opening stanza, that was too big a mountain to climb.

Franch, playing in just her fourth cap, made a fine double save in the 50th minute, first knocking down a long-range drive from Mana Iwabuchi and then making a point-blank stop on the follow-up. Iwabuchi would not be denied on her next attempt in the 58th minute when she snapped a shot through traffic to haul Japan within a goal at 2-1.

With the visitors ascendant and the USA trying to find its shape after a slew of subs, Japan threatened again minutes later, but a sharp angled shot hit the inside of the left post and deflected away from the U.S. goal and with it went Japan’s last quality opportunity to tie the match.

In the 83rd minute, substitute Mallory Pugh picked out Horan with a corner kick that the WNT’s joint-leading scorer powered inside the left post to put the USA up 3-1 and on the path to claiming its third SheBelieves crown.