Christen Press, Sam Mewis and Megan Rapinoe celebrate a goal. (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
FRISCO, Texas — The United States recorded a 3-1 win over Japan to capture the SheBelieves Cup at Toyota Stadium on Wednesday night.
Megan Rapinoe scored the first goal, set up one by Christen Press and Lindsey Horan added an insurance tally.
U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski shook up his starting XI with six changes to the lineup that began against Spain, bringing in goalkeeper Adrianna Franch and defender Tierna Davidson for their first action of the tournament as well as handing starts to outside back Kelley O’Hara, midfielder Horan and forwards Christen Press and Tobin Heath.
The new lineup wasted little time carving out the lead as Horan was fouled on the edge of the penalty area as she dribbled toward goal. Rapinoe curled the ensuing free kick over the Japan wall into the top left corner to put the USA up 1-0 in the 7th minute.
In the 26th minute, Rapinoe intercepted a pass from Japan goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita and quickly played the ball to Press at the top of the box. She sent magical chip over Yamashita and into the net for joint team-leading seventh goal of 2020 to put the USWNT firmly in the driver’s seat.
After Press’ goal, the USA has scored on both of its shots so far, and at that point, Japan needed four goals to knock the USA out of first place. While the perennial Asian power came out with renewed energy in the second half after the USA had the better of the play in the opening stanza, that was too big a mountain to climb.
Franch, playing in just her fourth cap, made a fine double save in the 50 th minute, first knocking down a long-range drive from Mana Iwabuchi and then making a point-blank stop on the follow-up. Iwabuchi would not be denied on her next attempt in the 58th minute when she snapped a shot through traffic to haul Japan within a goal at 2-1.
With the visitors ascendant and the USA trying to find its shape after a slew of subs, Japan threatened again minutes later, but a sharp angled shot hit the inside of the left post and deflected away from the U.S. goal and with it went Japan’s last quality opportunity to tie the match.
In the 83rd minute, substitute Mallory Pugh picked out Horan with a corner kick that the USWNT’s joint-leading scorer powered inside the left post.
SheBelieves Cup Final Standings