US Takes SBC Cup, 3-1 over Japan

By Sean McCaffery, March 12, 2020

There was a lot of talk during & after the World Cup, also coming into this Cup, of Spain, I saw one set of games live in RBA, Japan was the suprise of the tourney, tight control of the ball, getting forward well, pushing England to the brink. England played the US well but Spain played them better yet, Japan however was the only one to make a mark on the scoreline facing the World Cup winners. The US now has 3 SBC titles, this one playd before just over 19k fans, at RBA it was over 26,000. By way of beating England, Spain took 2nd and their Alexia Putellas was the Visa SBC MVP on the strength of a pair of goals over the trio of games.

For this final, Vlatko Andonvski made half a dozen changes to the starting lineup from the Spain game, GK Adrianna Franch & def., Tierna Davidson saw their first minutes and starts went to Kelley O'Hara, Lindsey Horan & Preath (Press & Heath). Just 7' in this revamped lineup made their mark as Lindsey was fouled just beyond the penalty area and the ensuing DFK found its way into the upper left corner, 1-0 USWNT. 

At minute #26, an intercepted pass from Japan's netminder Yamashita was fed to Press who from the top of the box chipped the GK, to join the leaders on the team for goals in 2020 @ 7. To this point the US had a 100% conversion rate on shots, 2-2. Japan at this point needed a quartet of goals to take the US out of the title, they were re- energized for the 2nd half, but the lead and momentum the US had built was too big of an obstacle to overcome.

Franch getting in on just her 4th game for the USWNT had a tremendous pair of saves at 50', she took down a distant shot by Iwabuchi and then the in close rebout that she was also able to handle. Mana was back in less than 10' when at 58', she hit for the first and only goal conceeded by the US in the games for a 2-1 scoreline. 

The US made many subs and Japan was coming on strong as Japan found the inside of the post but it rebounded away from danger and that was the last of the challanges from Japan.

The 83' saw Pugh find Horan for a goal as she also tied for tops on the team for the year and the final result of 3-1.

Kwikk Kixx:

-A 29-1-8 , record v Japan for the USWNT

-SBC mark of 10-2-3 for the USWNT

-48 games for a 43-0-5 line for the USWNT at home

-31 games unbeaten, and at least a pair of goals in 27 of those for the SBC winners

-Horan now has 19 goals, Press 58 in their tenure with the USWNT

-Press is on a tear, 9 goals in 10 games, only not finding the net in Olympic Qualifiying v Mexico & SBC play in NJ.

-Press has had a foot in 25 goals in her last 26 games, netting 11 while assisting 14X.

-Ten players have scored for the US on the year. The most dramatic may have been in SBC with Ertz and her header as the game came to an end.

-Long Islander Crystal Dunn is the ONLY one to start all games, along with Dahlkemper & Ertz the sole starters of all SBC games.

-Pugh & Short saw their first play, getting in the last half hour facing Japan.

-A trio of players remain from starting the 2015 World Cup FInal V Japan for the USWNT.

-789' of scoreless soccer ended with the goal from Japan, dating back to the 79' in a 3-2 win v Sweden on Nov. 7, 2019.

-Vlatko with a 10-0 opening record at the helm of the USWNT has equaled Pia Sundhage for the best start in the position.