It was a beautiful Sunday evening at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey for a great game of soccer as the U.S. Women's National Team faced off against Spain in the second of three games for both teams in the 2020 SheBelieves Cup. The SheBelieves Cup has become an annual invitational tournament hosted by the United States in early March that was founded in 2016. There are four teams in the tournament each year with each team playing each other once and the team with the most points at the end winning the SheBelieves Cup. In the first three years of the tournament, it was contested by the same four teams (U.S., England, France and Germany), but last year the tournament line up changed for the first time.
This year, the participants alongside the United States are England, Spain and Japan. Ever since the tournament began, there has always been a very competitive field just like this year and the games are always good tests for the U.S. This year the tournament serves as great preparation for the Olympics this summer as the U.S. look to become the first team to win the Olympics the year after winning the World Cup. Just three days earlier at Exploria Statdium in Orlando, Florida, both Spain and the U.S. earned 3 points to start off the tournament on a good note with Spain defeating Japan 3-1 and the U.S. beating England 2-0.
This was a rematch of the 2019 Women's World Cup Round of 16 encounter between these two teams which the U.S. won 2-1. Even though the U.S. got the win in that game, it is safe to say that many realized the Spanish Women's National Team is emerging as a team who can compete with the world's best teams. That was definitely the case on Sunday as Spain impressed in front of a sell out crowd of more than 25,000 fans at Red Bull Arena. They had nine shots over the course of the game and most impressively, had 60% of the possession. This definitely seemed to frustrate the U.S. over the course of the match as the Americans are used to being the ones dominating in possession. Despite Spain creating a good amount of chances, the finishing touch was not there for them as they were unable to find the back of the net. This proved to be costly for Spain as the U.S. remained patient. Although it took a while, Julie Ertz eventually scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal for the U.S. in the 87th minute on a header from a great service into the box from Christen Press. This goal ensured that the U.S. would not be shutout in a game for the first time since July of 2017. The fact that you could argue Spain was the better team in this game goes to show you that Spain, among other nations, are closing the gap and catching up to the U.S., which benefits women's soccer due to the increase in the number of quality teams.This win moved the United States to the top of the standings with six points and Spain are now in second with three points ahead of England on goal differential. England are at the bottom of the table with no points after two games. The U.S. are now in great shape to win the SheBelieves Cup as all they need is a draw in their last game and they will be champions. The final game of the tournament for all four teams will take place on Wednesday at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas when England plays Spain at 5:15 p.m. ET (4:15 local time) and the U.S. plays Japan at 8 p.m. ET (7:00 local time). Both England and Spain need a win and a U.S. loss to even have a chance of winning the tournament. If England and Spain were to draw, the U.S. would be champions before even taking the field against Japan. Even though Spain put up a great fight and showed us that they are a legit team, the U.S. seem to always find a way to win no matter what which was exactly the case on Sunday.