1-0, min. 35, Pugh. 1-1, min. 38, Le Sommer.
SheBelieves Cup 2018: USWNT 1-1 France - Les Bleus improve to hold the USWNT to a draw in New Jersey

SheBelieves Cup 2018: USWNT 1-1 France - Les Bleus improve to hold the USWNT to a draw in New Jersey

Goals from Mallory Pugh and Eugenie Le Sommer ensured a draw for both the USWNT and France in their second match of the 2018 SheBelieves Cup.

Emily Magee

France bounced back from the dour performance in their opening match of the 2018 SheBelieves Cup against England to take a point from the United States Women's National Team in a tightly-contested match in New Jersey.

It was the USWNT who struck first at the Red Bull Arena as Mallory Pugh struck home for her third goal of the year in the 35th minute after chaos ensued in the six-yard-box following a Megan Rapinoe free-kick.

However, Les Bleus weren't disheartened and equalised shortly after courtesy of Eugenie Le Sommer - the attacking midfielder got in behind Abby Dahlkemper to round US goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and draw the teams level.

Improvement was inevitable

France could only improve from their display against England. The win was only the Lionesses second victory over the Blues since 1974, with the first win recorded at last summer's UEFA Women’s European Championships in the Netherlands and the French side were a shadow of their former selves.

But, France will, of course, have taken confidence by reflecting on their 3-0 victory over the USWNT in the 2017 tournament. Last time out, the number one ranked team in the world came into the game needing a win over France to lift the SheBelieves Cup, however, Les Bleus scored twice in the opening 10 minutes to put the game beyond doubt and succumbing the US to their worst competitive defeat since their 4-0 loss to Brazil in the 2007 World Cup Semi-finals. 

And they certainly kept the world's best at bay for the first half hour. A good start by France showed their intent from the off, as Gaëtane Thiney tried to stretch the US with a through ball into the feet of Valérie Gauvin, which was unfortunately too heavy for the forward.

The play continued to flow from end-to-end with no clear-cut chances, but there were encouraging signs for the Europeans and it was clear that France manager Corinne Diacre had put out a more resolute side than the XI who played against England in the tournament opener.

France continued to push forward although it was 19-year-old Mallory Pugh who had the first real chance of the game, as the Washington Spirit forward latched onto Alex Morgan's delicate pass but squandered the opportunity.

However, the US starlet made no mistake the second time around and put Jill Ellis' side one nil up inside 35 minutes. Megan Rapinoe's drilled free-kick, following Marion Torrent's foul on Kelley O'Hara, caused havoc inside the six-yard box and Pugh reacted quickest to side-foot the ball home off the hand of Sarah Bouhaddi.

Nevertheless, the celebrations were premature as France grabbed the equaliser three minutes later as Eugenie Le Sommer, who beat Abby Dahlkemper for pace, rounded the US keeper to send the teams into the break all square.

Second Half

Ellis decided to change things up in the second half bringing in more firepower upfront, adding forwards Lynn Williams and Savannah McCaskill into the mix, the latter was drafted by Sky Blue FC with the second overall pick of the NWSL Dispersal Draft.

The US coach continued to change tactically throughout the 45 with changes in the personnel and the stars and stripes continued their patient attack yet lacked the incisive pass in the final third.

O'Hara, the USWNT's conventional right-back, continued to surge forward incessantly on the right-flank in the second half. Although, the Utah Royals player was fortunate to get away without a booking when she slid right through a French attacker personally trying to stop play after she was aggrieved that the game was not stopped for the injured Alex Morgan.

Chances were few in the second half, yet it was Pugh who was involved once again. The former US Soccer Young Female Athlete of The Year went down after light contact from a defender and claimed a penalty inside the box with 72 minutes gone. Although replays confirmed that the referee's decision was, in fact, correct and confirmed the goalscorer had gone down too easily.  

France pushed for the winner in the latter stages and forced Naeher into some world class saves.

The first opportunity to grasp the winner came after Viviane Asseyi found space past makeshift defender Crystal Dunn, who in fact played in the same position at college, winning ACC Defender of the Year during her time at the University of North Carolina. But, the North Carolina Courage player is certainly more renowned for her attacking prowess these days and once passed Dunn the midfielder slipped the ball to Gauvin, who elicited a top-class save from Naeher.

The U.S. keeper was called into action again moments later as a corner kick skimmed across the box to the far post, where Amadine Henry unleashed a shot from close-range.

After a thrilling finish, the two sides both left the Red Bull Arena with a point apiece, in spite of the fact that France were unlucky not to steal the victory at the close.