FOOTBALL: Japan’s late goal ties U.S., 2-2, in SheBelieves Cup opener

Dangerous (left to right): U.S. strikers Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and Megan Rapinoe

It was chilly at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania for the first two games of the SheBelieves Cup, and the U.S. women’s national team left feeling cold about a 2-2 tie with Japan.

The American squad controlled much of the game and had both possession and chances … but not the goals. Megan Rapinoe got the only goal of the first half in the 23rd minute, off a brilliant right-side run to the endline by Tobin Heath and a laser-like cross in front of the goal to Rapinoe’s right foot for the finish.

The U.S. continued to control the game in the second half, but Japan kept finding spaces to challenge U.S. keeper Alyssa Naeher. In the 67th minute, Yui Hasegawa’s pass left Emi Nakajima open for a quick shot from about 13 yards out for the equalizer.

The Americans showed renewed energy on the attack, especially once Christen Press entered the game for Mallory Pugh in the 75th minute. Press had an immediate chance to contribute and sent an expert cross from Japan’s endline toward the front of the goal and Alex Morgan was there to meet it and chest it in for her 99th international goal and a possible game-winner at 2-1.

But there were holes in the U.S. defense and after a five-minute delay to tend to an injured official, Japan’s Hasegawa run through the American backline and her pass from the left side found Yuki Momiki for the tying goal in the 91st minute.

The U.S. had further chances in stoppage time, but the game ended at 2-2 and earned both sides one point in the standings.

In the first game of the doubleheader, England defeated Brazil, 2-1, to take first place in the tournament with the U.S. The Brazilians took a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute thanks to a penalty from Andressa Alves da Silva, but the English tied it in the 49th minute on an Ellen White goal and won it on Beth Mead’s score in the 75th minute.

The remaining schedule:

02 March: Brazil vs. Japan and U.S. vs. England (Fox: 4:30 p.m.) at Nashville, Tennessee.

05 March: Japan vs. England and U.S. vs. Brazil (FS1: 8:00 p.m.) at Tampa, Florida.


USA 1, JPN 0: 23′ Megan Rapinoe (USA)

USA 1, JPN 1: 67′ Emi Nakajima (JPN)
USA 2, JPN 1: 77′ Alex Morgan (USA)
USA 2, JPN 2: 90+1: Yuka Momiki (JPN)