Three takeaways from the United States victory over France

Alex Morgan Goal vs FRA

by TOM SLATER

The SheBelieves Cup is certainly living up to its potential.

With four of the five top-ranked women’s teams in the world coming to the United States, all four matches have been ultra-competitive. One goal has separated the teams in all four matches with the game-winners coming in the last half hour of play.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the losing squads all have deserved better. France and England both came out swinging – attacking rather than bunkering – and had the United States and Germany on its collective heels, especially in the opening 45 minutes.

France looked extremely sharp and dangerous in the first half yesterday. Their speed and attacking mindset led to a flurry of quality chances, denied only by Hope Solo and the crossbar. But the United States turned the tables in the second half, lengthening their passes to spring Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan. The latter pulled the game out of the hat in stoppage time as Mallory Pugh delivered a quality through ball to set up the goal.

Next up is Germany, who beat England, 2-1 on a late goal (what else). The winner takes the trophy for the inaugural SheBelieves Cup. A tie goes to Germany on goals scored (3-2).

Here’s the three takeaways from the win over France:

Jill, you’re allowed to sub: The United States did not make a change until the 85th minute when Christen Press and Crystal Dunn came on for Lindsey Horan and Kelley O’Hara.  She made one more sub – Whitney Engen for Pugh in stoppage time. The SheBelieves Cup allows for six substitutes. It was strange that Jill Ellis waited for so long to put in Dunn and Press, especially when France was beginning to wilt and fresh legs earlier may have opened up the floodgates.

O’Hara was the best player for the Americans in the first half: Well, except for Solo. O’Hara was solid on defense when the French were attacking. She also created the two most dangerous United States choices in the opening 45 minutes.  Ellis seems to love her attacking abilities and she can changed the field quickly.

The French deserved better – again: For the second straight match the French deserved at least a point but fell victim to a late goal. France came out attacking the United States and had them on their heels for long periods of time. If they had scored on any of their chances in the opening 45 minutes, the outcome may have been different. And for the second straight match, the United States was on its heels early. That’s a trend that needs to stop.