Carli Lloyd set up the first goal and scored the second one. (Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports)
ORLANDO — The final score hardly told the story of the United States’ opening game of the SheBelieves Cup on Thursday night.
Sure, the Americans recorded a 2-0 victory over England at Exploria Stadium, but the score was not that close.
From the starting kick to the final whistle, the USWNT had its foes on its heels for most of the time. England had a few opportunities, particularly on corner kicks, but at times the game looked like a 120-yard clinic by the hosts.
Christen Press and Carli Lloyd struck for the Women’s World Cup champions in a rematch of last summer’s semifinal match (won by the USA, 2-1, in France).
Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher was superb in net, denying England several times to record the clean sheet.
After a dominating, yet frustrating opening half in which the USA did just about everything but score, the host side finally broke through twice within a two-minute span in the second half.
First, Lloyd found Press, who lofted a perfect ball from 24 yards over the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Carly Telford in the 53rd minute.
Some two minutes after that goal celebration, Lloyd put her name in the scoring column. Lindsey Horan pin-pointed a perfect feed in the air to Lloyd as the Delran, N.J. native struck from 10 yards to double the lead to 2-0.
Midfielder Julie Ertz, who played in her 100th international match, found the net in the 78th minute off another fine feed by Lloyd, but that goal was nullified due to an offside call.
In the first game of the doubleheader, Lucia Garcia scored twice as Spain recorded a 3-1 victory over Japan.
The USA will meet Spain in the second game of a doubleheader at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. at 5 p.m. on Sunday, after England faces Japan at 2:15 p.m.