The final day of the SheBelieves Cup has everything to play for with Japan and England both with four points, USWNT with two points, and Brazil with zero. On Tuesday England and Japan will face off, then the USWNT will take on Brazil. While Brazil cannot win the tournament, the USWNT needs to win and score a lot of goals. The USWNT can only win the tournament if England and Japan draw and the USWNT has a better goal differential than Japan. The current goal differential is Japan +2, England +1, USWNT 0. The USWNT v Brazil game will kickoff at 8 p.m. ET on FS1 from Tampa, Florida.
Brazil's matches that led to last place standings
Brazil has a long-standing history of being one of the best teams in the women’s game. Brazil qualified for this year’s World Cup by winning their seventh 2018 Copa America Femenina. During the tournament, Brazil won seven matches in a row scoring 31 goals while only conceding 2. However, Brazil has struggled this tournament having only scored two goals and conceding five goals. In their first match against England Brazil went up in the 16th minute after a penalty scored by Andressa Alves but scored twice after half time to win 2-1. On Matchday 2 Japan went up first but Debinha, North Carolina Courage midfielder, equalized. Japan scored twice in the final 10 minutes to take all three points, 3-1.
USWNT picks up two disappointing points
The USWNT has also struggled during the SheBelieves Cup, drawing both match 2-2. In their first match, Tobin Heath and Megan Rapinoe connected early to go up 1-0 in the 23rd minute. Japan equalized in the 67th minute after a poor clearance from Tierna Davidson landed right at the feet of Emi Nakajima. Alex Morgan scored her 99th international goal assisted by Christen Press after coming into the game less than a minute before. Press proved once again how valuable she is, not needing to start to make an impact on the game. Japan equalized once again this game in stoppage time after the backline was poorly positioned leaving a wide open Yuki Momika at the back post. England also scored two goals against the USWNT, the first an unstoppable free kick by Steph Houghton and the second a slip ball behind the back line to Nikita Parris.
Young center-backs need Sauerbrunn
It is clear that the defense is the biggest concern of the opening months of the World Cup Year. Davidson and Abby Dahlkemper started both matches with Becky Sauerbrunn, not in full health. The young center backs inexperience showed, but it is not the end of the world with the World Cup three months away. The USWNT’s best bet is to play one of the young players next to Sauerbrunn, the burning question is which one do you play. Davidson has looked incredibly calm and composed despite only being 20. Davidson decided to forego her senior year at Stanford to play for the Chicago Red Stars. With the move from collegiate to pro Davidson will get more time playing a higher pace heading into the World Cup than if she were still at Stanford. Dahlkemper got her first call up in October of 2016 and has been a mainstay ever since, despite missings some time due to injury. Dahlkemper has proved herself over and over again in the NWSL as one of the best defenders; however, she is not performing at the same level consistently for the USWNT. If Sauerbrunn is healthy for the third game hopefully the defense will tighten up bolstered by experience.