The SheBelieves Cup is here once again but can the USWNT regain their title after England won their first last year?
Orlando Florida, Harrison New Jersey, and Frisco Texas, will be hosting four of the world’s top teams. They are to embark on a 6-day journey travelling around the USA.Embed from Getty Images
Besides the two-time World Cup champs, we have Phil Neville’s Lionesses, Olympics hosts Japan and an emerging Spain.
Having four teams that rank in the top 15 in the world, a fierce competition is anticipated and nothing can be predicted.
All four teams bring a different element to this competition that will only better their readiness as Tokyo 2020 approaches.
In last year’s SheBelieves Cup, England took home the trophy beating out Brazil, Japan, and the USA.
Will this be the same outcome or will the newly commanded USA team reclaim their SheBelieves Cup trophy as they had three years in a row prior?
So what can we expect from this USA Squad? Let’s take a look at the roster Vlatko Andonovski finalized on February 26th.
Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride); Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage), Crystal Dunn (NC Courage), Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Emily Sonnet (Orlando Pride); Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Sam Mewis (NC Courage), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit); Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Christen Press (Utah Royals), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns), Jess McDonald (NC Courage), Lynn Williams (NC Courage), and Mal Pugh (Sky Blue FC).
Starting off with a WC rematch
March 5th the USA will be facing off against England, which is a rematch from the Women’s World Cup Semi-Final last July.
The rivalry between these two teams runs deep these two sides have kept fans on their toes throughout the entirety of any respective match.Embed from Getty Images
England’s Ellen White (4) is the top scorer in the SBC, with Ballon d’Or winner Megan Rapinoe (3) hot on her heels.
Could this game be a goal-fest? Or will there be a back-and-forth battle between two powerhouses like matches have been in previous years?
One can be sure that the USA will be ready for the clash against this England squad in order to solidify points early.
Facing the up-and-coming Spanish
On March 8, the USA will be taking on Spain at Red Bull Arena in Harrison New Jersey.
Spain, known for their amazing ability to maintain possession against their opponents, will not make it easy for the USA.
Do not discredit them just because they are ranked number 13 in the world. Their style of football that they possess will have any team tripping up on containing them during a match.Embed from Getty Images
The two met recently in the World Cup, where it was an uphill battle for the USA only winning 2-1.
An up and coming team to watch, Spain will definitely plan on making a statement.
A culmination against Japan
The US will take on Japan in their final game at the year’s SheBelieves Cup. They take on the Olympics hosts on March 11.
Japan have a long-running history and have put everything into their preparation for this summer’s Olympics.Embed from Getty Images
They have a mentality that is different than the other teams at the tournament. The Japanese are explosive in attack but they are patient.
They are able to capitalize on any mistake from the opposition and make them pay for it! The speed of this Japan squad and their resilience will be put the test as captain Suki Kumagai will attempt to lead her squad to victory.
Who to look out for
Defensively, the USA is astonishing. Their solid backline gives any opposition a hard time getting past them.
Two players that you have to pick out would be Crystal Dunn on the left and Kelley O’Hara on the right.
Dunn has the ability to travel up the pitch and make the other team pay for not stopping her. Her versatility can bring it to you or shut you down.Embed from Getty Images
You can guarantee that Kelley O’Hara will do the same as Dunn on the other side of the pitch.
O’Hara has the same forward attacking mindset, making her very dangerous. You can find her wide open on the right side, which inevitably sets the USA up for multiple goal-scoring opportunities.
These two players, although classified as defenders, know how to get into the final third to help create a fine line of attack.
What about midfield?
Julie Ertz and Rose Lavelle. Does anything else need to be said?
Ertz commands the middle of the park threading balls to strikers. She can defend, attack, and has the field awareness that makes her a key player in this tournament.
Alongside Ertz, there’s Rose Lavelle. This young star had a fantastic year for club and country.Embed from Getty Images
Lavelle is able to pick apart any backline and make opponents lose track of her. She can slice up the defence or simply score any kind of goal.
With just these four players already named, any team would be double-checking their game plans to make sure they have all ends and outs covered.
And up top?
Two players that will be leading the way will be Lynn Williams and Carli Lloyd.
Lynn Williams has been amazing in the Olympic qualifying matches last month. Williams’ speed causes trouble for the backline to keep track of where she is on and off the ball.
With three goals scored in the Olympic qualification games, Williams’ clinical executions in the final third make her one to watch.
Pairing with Lloyd, these two are a force to be reckoned with up top. Carli Lloyd is no stranger to the women’s game and has been amazing for the program and growth within the US Soccer Federation.Embed from Getty Images
Lloyd could be classified as the Sleeper on the front line of attack. She is dangerous on and off the ball but always finds ways to score. The more chances she gets to shoot, you can guarantee shots will find the back of the net.
All four teams will have their hands full in this year SheBelieves Cup, as they will battle for the trophy.
Granted this is just a friendly tournament, this will give each team a better look with what needs to change in preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.