After a pair of friendlies that were solid against New Zealand, the USWNT began its competitive campaign in the SheBelieves Cup against Canada. The game would be a chance to see if the biggest question about the team had more answers - mainly, how would the midfield look as Julie Ertz and Sam Mewis face extended absences? Meanwhile, the game would also be a chance for both teams to stand together for equality as Canada has continued its protest against their federation for unequal treatment.
The USA lined up with what seems like the strongest XI it has at the moment. The all important and oft mentioned midfield would be covered by Lindsey Horan, Andi Sullivan and Ashley Sanchez. Meanwhile, Alex Morgan would be honored before the match with her 200th cap in Red, White, and Blue.
Canada would set out to show they could hang with the USWNT following their Gold Medal in 2021.
In the end, the USA would apply an effective press that Canada had difficulty overcoming. The USWNT was able to start fast with big chances and eventually leading to a Mal Swanson first half brace. A 2-0 scoreline would be sustained through the second half as the USA took the spoils.
GIFS OF CANADA TRYING TO PUT THE SYRUP BACK INTO THE BOTTLE
It took about eight seconds for the first chance of the game to materialize and the USA kept Canada under pressure constantly through the early going. A chance finally went into the net when Trinity Rodman sent a cross to Alex Morgan who flicked it to Mal Swanson. The forward hit it on the volley to score the first goal of the game.
Things slowed down a bit for the next half hour, but the USA kept Canada’s attack at bay while creating most of the threat on goal. The half also featured the USWNT’s press on full display. Canada had a difficult time moving the ball and establishing possession or overcoming the press at all. It cost them badly when Alex Morgan forced a passback to the keeper that Mal Swanson intercepted and smashed into the net to make it 2-0.
Mal read it like a book pic.twitter.com/suaEDAQbcT— U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (@USWNT) February 17, 2023
Canada awoke from their hibernation in the final minutes of the half as they created a few decent opportunities. The most notable forced Alyssa Naeher to make a diving save on a shot from Janine Beckie in injury time.
NAEHER KEEPS IT AT ZERO pic.twitter.com/T6pWsUYfvu— U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (@USWNT) February 17, 2023
The half would end with the USA up 2-0 and when the teams resumed Vlatko Andonovski went to the bench to bring in Emily Sonnett for Crystal Dunn. As the half began, the USA did not find the chances it had earlier in the match, but the danger Canada had been creating toward the end of the first half was also lacking. As the 60th minute neared, Morgan came off for Ashley Hatch concluding the 200th cap of her career and Ashley Sanchez exited for Kristie Mewis.
Rodman created something for the USA as she went hard into the paint and found Hatch charging in on net. The forward got a solid effort off but Kailen Sheridan pushed it out for a corner near the 70th minute. Hatch had another chance as she was played into the box for a one v one with Sheridan. Rather than take a one timer on it, she took a touch and fired her shot straight at the Canada netminder.
Additional subs would come on for the last 10 minutes with Rodman coming off for Lynn Williams. As added time loomed, the USA brought in Taylor Kornieck and Midge Purce for Horan and Swanson. The game would end without further excitement as the USA came away with a 2-0 win to begin the tournament.