USA Held to 1-1 Draw vs. France in 2018 SheBelieves Cup

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2018

France's Valerie Gauvin kicks the ball during the first half of a SheBelieves Cup soccer match between France and the US at the Red Bulls Stadium on March 4, 2018 in Harrison, New Jersey. / AFP PHOTO / KENA BETANCUR        (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

The United States women's national team could only manage a 1-1 draw against France during Sunday's 2018 SheBelieves Cup fixture in New Jersey, leaving the hosts with four points after two matches in the tournament.

Mallory Pugh gave the Stars and Stripes the lead in the first half, but Eugenie Le Sommer tied things up minutes later. 

England and Germany will meet later on Sunday.

Here's a look at the two teams:

U.S. Soccer WNT @ussoccer_wnt

#SheBelievesCup 2018 Round 2! Introducing our starting XI vs. France. Lineup notes » https://t.co/OQ1eicJsr4 https://t.co/liOS8kQCCm

Equipe de France @equipedefrance

On connaît la compo de ce 2ème match de la #SheBelievesCup contre les Américaines💪 Coup d'envoi à 18h00 sur @CStar #USAFRA https://t.co/85KnlrtmQS

The USA came into their second match of the SheBelieves Cup tied for the lead after beating Germany, while France lost their opener to England.

Both teams started with plenty of intensity, and it took just minutes for Pugh to fire the first shot on goal, drawing an easy save from Sarah Bouhaddi.

Both teams used the long ball early, and the French defence appeared to have more issues dealing with it. Bouhaddi also didn't seem at all comfortable claiming the ball, nearly gifting Alex Morgan a big chance with some poor timing. In possession, France seemed the better side, however.

Les Bleus threatened via a corner that was headed wide, while Megan Rapinoe and Morgan combined to put the ball in the net, but the latter did so from an offside position.

Kelley O’Hara made a great clearance to deny France a clear run at goal, and Pugh should have tested Bouhaddi after good work from Morgan but rushed her effort and missed the target.

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The hosts improved as the half wore on, and after two quick bookings and some desperate defending from France, Pugh opened the scoring. After a mad scramble, the 19-year-old pushed the ball home from close range.

Per Planet Futbol, the youngster has a remarkable scoring record already:

Planet Fútbol @si_soccer

GOAL!!!!! Rapinoe's free-kick causes a scramble in the box, which is picked up by Mallory Pugh! The 19-year-old scores her 9th goal of her young career and USWNT are ahead! USA 1-0 FRA 35' https://t.co/8wraeroHcv

But the Stars and Stripes couldn't enjoy their lead for long. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher was lucky to see a lob fall on the crossbar after she came off her line too early, and she was too slow minutes later, allowing Le Sommer to sneak in between her and Abby Dahlkemper before rounding the stopper and finishing.

Per sportswriter Dan Lauletta, the two didn't help each other at all:

Dan Lauletta @TheDanLauletta

Le Sommer ties it for France. She beat Dahlkemper who got in Naeher's way or vice versa, solid finish 1-1 #USAvFRA

The USA went looking for the lead again early in the second half and France had issues keeping up, leading to a bad tackle from Gaetane Thiney on Pugh, who appeared in serious pain as a result.

Chances were few, but Les Bleus created some panic inside the box of Naeher with a good cross that was almost converted.

There was a minor incident when Morgan went down and the visitors did not play the ball out. Kelley O’Hara went into a French player to force the action and somehow wasn't booked for the violent tackle.

Pugh wanted a penalty after some light contact inside the box after 72 minutes, and replays confirmed the scorer went to the ground far too easily. 

Naeher had to be at her best to deny Valerie Gauvin, and the resulting corner fell to Amandine Henry, who also couldn't beat the stopper. Per sportswriter Jonathan Tannenwald, the defence did not do its job:

The USA pressed for a late winner but couldn't put any major chances together, while France threatened through Le Sommer, who tried her luck from a tricky angle. There would be no more goals, however, as the two teams shared the spoils.

The Stars and Stripes will face England in their last SheBelieves Cup outing, while France go up against old rivals Germany. Both matches will be played at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, Florida, on Wednesday.


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