SheBelieves Cup 2018: USWNT 1-0 Germany - Megan Rapinoe strike sinks Germany in SheBelieves Cup opener

The US bagged their first victory in the SheBelieves Cup with a solitary goal from Megan Rapinoe following England's 4-1 victory over France in the first game of the tournament.

United States
1 0
Germany
United States: Naeher; Smith, Dahlkemper, Davidson, O’Hara (Short, min.79); Ertz (McCaskill, min.72), Horan, Lloyd (C) (Brian, min.65); Pugh (Williams, min.90+1), Morgan (Long, min.90+4), Rapinoe (Sonnett, min.86) Substitutes: Sullivan, Huerta, Campbell, Dunn, Press, Harris.
Germany : Schult; Hendrich, Maier (Kayikci, min.76), Peter (Goeßling, min.54), Marozsan (C), Popp, Däbritz, Dallmann (Magull, min.68), Faißt, Huth, Kemme. Substitutes: Benkarth, Schlüter, Elsig, Klasen, Islacker, Blässe, Doorsoun, Beck, Schüller.
SCORE: 1-0, min.17, Megan Rapinoe.
INCIDENTS: The match was played at the MAPFRE Stadium. 14,591 spectators.

The two top-ranked teams in the world kicked off their campaigns in the third edition of the SheBelieves Cup on Thursday evening and the United States Women's National Team made a strong start on opening day, pushing aside Germany with a 1-0 win at the MAPFRE Stadium.

After an uncharacteristic bottom place finish last time out, the USWNT were looking for redemption in Ohio.

As the weather conditions played havoc for both sides on the night, the heavy rain and gusty conditions largely dictated proceedings. But with the wind at their back's in the first half the USA broke the deadlock and scored the only goal of the game courtesy of Megan Rapinoe's 17th-minute opener. 

Disruptive Weather Conditions

The USA haven't lost to Germany since 2003 and hold a 21-4-7 all-time advantage. Considering the calibre of the opposition - two-time World champions Germany have also won eight of the 12 UEFA European Championships - the two sides are renowned for playing out tight affairs and Thursday's match in Ohio was no different.

Jill Ellis put out a near unchanged line-up to the side who defeated Denmark on January 21, albeit with the addition of Carli Lloyd who replaced Andi Sullivan in midfield. However, what was more surprising is that only two players in the USWNT line-up started against Germany last time out. With only Alyssa Naeher and Carli Lloyd's retention, it is ever apparent of the transition in the US setup since they were crowned 2015 Women's World Cup champions.

This was certainly not the night for any lavish style of play, as the severe weather conditions prevented any chance of free-flowing football. 

Although Germany tested US goalkeeper Naeher in the opening stages, it was the USWNT who were aided by the wind in the first half and used this to their advantage as Rapinoe capitalised to strike first for the home side.

As a German attack collapsed, Naeher exploited the space left in behind and quickly launched a goal kick up the field. Kathrin Hendrich and Alex Morgan contested the ball in the air with the latter barely glancing the ball on, which allowed Rapinoe to break one-on-one with the German keeper. Almuth Schult attempted to narrow the angle but couldn't do enough to parry the Seattle Reign midfielder's shot as it found it's way into the goal off Schult's leg.

After the break, Ellis' side pushed on and created the more threatening opportunities as they had 9 shots on target to Germany's three.

The US were on the front foot and were close to increasing their lead - with one of the best opportunities once again falling to Rapinoe. Mal Pugh intercepted an uncharacteristically poor pass from Dzenifer Maroszan and played a neat diagonal ball to the feet of Rapinoe who failed to make it 2-0 after her shot was blocked.

Following a late flurry by Germany, the Americans managed to hold the European heavyweights at bay, closing the game out with a clean sheet and three important points on the board heading into their next match against France. 

Last Time Out

Before tonight's match, the US had won both meetings between the two sides at the SheBelieves Cup, with Morgan and Sam Mewis getting on the scoresheet to ensure a 2-1 win in 2016 whilst Lynn Williams notched the solitary goal in a 1-0 victory last time out.

This was the second time the two teams had met in Ohio as Ellis' side defeated Germany 4-0 on March 22, 2010 in Cleveland - a match of prominence due to the fact that it featured US legend Kristine Lilly's 130th and final international goal for the red, white and blue.

Germany closed out last year's tournament with a second-place finish, where they lost their opening game to the USA, but bounced back with a 0-0 draw against eventual tournament winners France, and took down England 1-0 to close out their run to a second-place finish.

In stark contrast, the USWNT concluded the set of matches at the bottom of the table as they were unable to overcome France and England, following a victory over the Germans.

Opening match of the She Believes Cup

To new manager Phil Neville's delight, England romped to victory in the opening match of the tournament over a lacklustre France side, with goals from Toni Duggan, Jill ScottJodie Taylor and Fran Kirby