The U.S. women’s soccer team needed only a draw to win the SheBelieves Cup for the third time, but a win is always more satisfying.
Megan Rapinoe and Christen Press scored in the first half and Lindsey Horan added one late as the U.S. defeated Japan, 3-1, in front of a sold-out crowd in Frisco, Texas, to finish the tournament undefeated at 3-0. The two-time defending FIFA Women's World Cup champions also won the SheBelieves Cup title in 2016, its inaugural year, as well as 2018.
Rapinoe, making her fourth start of the year and second of the tournament, put the U.S. on the board early. Horan was pulled down by the jersey and walked off the field holding her left shoulder, and with the free kick Rapinoe banged one home to make it 1-0 in the seventh minute.
Then in the 26th minute Japan turned the ball over, Rapinoe tapped it over to Press and she made Japan pay for its mistake with a chip of the goalkeeper that made it 2-0.
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If there was one blemish for the U.S., it was that the team had a goal against for the first time in four months. Japan came back in the second half ready to play, and in the 58th minute Mana Iwabuchi scored her second goal of the tournament to cut Team USA’s lead in half. It was the first time the U.S. gave up a goal since Nov. 7 against Sweden.
Any hopes of evening things up were crushed late in the game when Horan headed the ball perfectly out of the air, redirecting it to the near corner of the net to make it 3-0 in the 83rd minute.
The U.S. beat England 2-0 and Spain 1-0 in the first two games of the tournament. The Americans are now 29-1-8 against Japan. Overall, they are on a 31-game unbeaten streak and have scored at least two goals in 27 of those games.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.