The U.S. women’s national team entered its opening match of the SheBelieves Cup guided by that directive, Mallory Pugh Swanson revealed at halftime.
Swanson delivered, striking first in the seventh minute and then adding another in the 34th to lead the USWNT to a 2-0 win against rival Canada at Exploria Stadium in Orlando. Florida. The 24-year-old forward has six goals in her last four games for the national team.
Her first goal came off an assist from Alex Morgan, who made her 200th appearance for the USWNT in the victory.
.@MalPugh strikes first 😤 pic.twitter.com/7sewcxBhas— Just Women’s Sports (@justwsports) February 17, 2023
.@MalPugh strikes first 😤 pic.twitter.com/7sewcxBhas
For her second goal, Swanson darted into the box to intercept an ill-placed pass from Canada, then slammed the ball into the back of the net.
2nd goal of the night for @MalPugh pic.twitter.com/nWStLGwPrU— Just Women’s Sports (@justwsports) February 17, 2023
2nd goal of the night for @MalPugh pic.twitter.com/nWStLGwPrU
The USWNT showed high energy from the opening whistle, a welcome sign as the team continues to prepare for the World Cup.
For the Canada women’s national team, though, the match capped a draining week. The squad is embroiled in a labor dispute with its national federation and is playing the round-robin tournament under protest.
The best chance for Canada came from Janine Beckie at the very end of the first half. The shot required a diving stop from USWNT goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who made the save and recorded her second shutout of 2023.
🚫 NAEHER KEEPS IT AT ZERO 🚫 pic.twitter.com/T6pWsUYfvu— U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (@USWNT) February 17, 2023
🚫 NAEHER KEEPS IT AT ZERO 🚫 pic.twitter.com/T6pWsUYfvu
Our staff writer Claire Watkins provides her breakdown of the USWNT’s victory. Follow her on Twitter @ScoutRipley and subscribe to the JWS newsletter for more.
The USWNT started off the SheBelieves Cup with a bang, defeating rival Canada 2-0 with two first-half goals from Mallory Swanson.
Center back Naomi Girma joined Rose Lavelle on the bench with a knock to her right leg, and Ashley Sanchez got the start in the attacking midfield.
Canada looked somewhat mentally depleted after spending the week in conflict with their federation.
Bottom line: Canada can be forgiven for a certain amount of mental fatigue, but the U.S. came into the SheBelieves Cup with an intensity that matches their ambition to win the whole thing.