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On the road to the World Cup, Americans deny Japan 2-2: NPR



American striker Megan Rapinoe takes the ball while Japanese Hina Sugita stays close to the first day of the SheBelieves Cup in Chester, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday night.

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Elsa / Getty Images

American striker Megan Rapinoe takes the ball while Japanese Hina Sugita stays close to the first day of the SheBelieves Cup in Chester, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday night.

Elsa / Getty Images

A little over three months before the Women's World Cup in France, the American team is looking for proof that it has all the necessary ingredients to assert its rank of world number one. However, as the team left the field Wednesday night after a 2-2 draw with Japan, she acknowledged that there was still work to be done – and that if they wanted to defend their title in World Cup, they could not afford a lot of mistakes.

It was the first day of the SheBelieves Cup, a tournament organized by the United States in anticipation of the World Cup, which will start on June 7th. The match offered a rematch of the 2015 World Cup final, where the United States beat Japan 5-2. But both teams have changed a lot since then and this four-team tournament offers a chance for the coach of each team to try out new formations – and see who will make the trip to France.

But the summer felt well away from that cold night outside of Philadelphia, while a biting wind was blowing from the Delaware River. Many players wore gloves and spectators were reluctant to take off to sing the national anthem.

Many young fans in the stands have taken the double title – a previous match had seen England beat Brazil 2-1 – and a high-pitched chorus went up and down every time Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath or Alex Morgan escaped. in the race. the first minutes of the game

Things started to go like the Americans in the 23rd minute, when Heath made a low center that found Rapinoe, who slid in front of Japan's goalkeeper.

The United States followed with many shots by Rapinoe and Morgan, but none managed to break the net.

In the 67th minute, Japan finally got a chance. Emi Nakajima lifted his left foot and pushed American goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to a tie.

The momentum was transferred to Japan until the United States withdrew Christen Press from the bench in the middle of the second period. Almost immediately, she found the ball and sent it to Morgan, who hit her in the goal with her chest.

The United States seemed to have the match in the bag … until the break, when Japan's Yuka Momiki scored a goal off the crossbar to tie the score to 91.st minute.

It was the third match of the American team in 2019. The first match was a 3-1 defeat against France last month in Le Havre, a port city where the United States will face Sweden in the group stage of the World Cup. A few days later, the USWNT beat Spain 1-0.

After the match, Rapinoe said the result indicated that the team had to work on closing the matches – and controlling them. "I think we still take too much risk when we do not need it," said the veteran. "And we should probably be more patient and wait for a big opportunity instead of half a chance."

She noted that it was the third very different composition of the team. "We are obviously still nailing this."

US coach Jill Ellis said she was disappointed with the result, but not the players or their performances.

"I thought there were very good things" in both halves, she said. "I felt like we were playing as a team, we made two mistakes on the back that cost us, and we left things on the table.", The attackers – we went into their goal 34 times. "

She said that she was going to take the positives of the match – and that the team's job is simply to continue to improve if she wants to win another World Cup: "We have to argue seven games to win this thing. "

The United States will face England on Saturday in Nashville, Tennessee.


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