USWNT claim 2021 SheBelieves Cup title

Team USA players and staff celebrate after winning the 2021 SheBelieves Cup.
Team USA players and staff celebrate after winning the 2021 SheBelieves Cup at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida on February 24, 2021. (Photo by GREGG NEWTON/AFP via Getty Images)

The U.S. women’s national team have once again captured the SheBelieves Cup. It was their second tournament win in a row and fourth time being named SBC winners since the tournament’s conception in 2016. 

Up against Canada, the USWNT uncharacteristically struggled. Their neighbors to the north proved to be the toughest opponent they had faced since last year’s tournament.

Defensively, Canada proved to be strong and persistent in playing against the highest ranked team in the world. This was especially impressive for Canada as they had several mainstay players out due to injury or COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Notable players from the WSL and NWSL left their mark on the pitch. This gave both sides the cutting edge and endurance to produce a very hard-hitting battle.

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The USWNT had everything on the line as they tried to secure three points. Finally, they found their breakthrough via secret weapon Rose Lavelle. The Manchester City “game changer” came on with a little more than 25 minutes left in the game.

Despite the clock ticking, Lavelle granted USA the opportunity to stay in the hunt for the cup title after breaking the deadlock in the 79th minute.

A rejuvenated Brazil

Match day number two would be another challenge for the USWNT.

Apart from the opposition itself, head coach Vlatko Andonovski stated all rotations were planned and not based on previous match play. Therefore, not only did the U.S. face a difficult Brazilian side, but they also had to prove the cohesiveness of their squad depth.

Rotations between the first two matches were evident for the hosts. Several holes were in their formation were exposed as they battled against Pia Sundhage’s powerhouse squad. Brazil, known for their explosive attacking flare, gave the U.S. a run for their money.

Brazilian players were able to pick apart unmarked space left in the middle of the field as well as the backline. With the legendary Marta Vieira da Silva leading Seleção from the front, the game opened up for both sides.

Overall, this back-and-forth affair played into the advantage of the Americans. In the end, they stuck to their style of play and came away with another win, leaving Brazil seated with their three points from opening day. 

A final day worthy of celebration

Heading into the final match, champion status was still not completely secured by the USWNT. Additionally, Canada and Brazil sat in the wings with hopes of making the final day a bit more interesting for everyone.

With both Canada and Brazil tied at three points, the two sides’ last fixture pressured the U.S. to not let their guard down.

Brazil ended up defeating Canada with a strong 2-0 victory. This weighed heavily on the USWNT’s shoulders to come out and hold strong against a dynamic Argentinian side. The hosts needed a draw or a win in order to claim the title.

However, any internal pressure was alleviated in the 16th minute when Megan Rapinoe opened the scoring. From there, the goals kept coming and the U.S. replicated thier performances against Colombia.

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The final whistle blew and USWNT secured its second consecutive SBC trophy, toppling Argentina 6-0. While many would say it was all in a day’s work, there were still some stumbling blocks that Argentina were able to find.

Argentina, ranked 31st in the world, was the weaker side out of the three countries that joined the hosts. Yet, they are a team on the rise and are expected to be a threat in the years to come.

As the USWNT hoisted the trophy on another successful cup, attention will now shift forward. All eyes will be on how this squad will perform and prepare for the lead up to the Olympics.

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