England Tied for Lead in SheBelieves Cup After 2-2 Draw with USA Women's Team

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistMarch 2, 2019

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 02:  Ellen White #18 of England collides with Tierna Davidson #12 of the USA during the first half of the 2019 SheBelieves Cup match between USA and England at Nissan Stadium on March 2, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The United States' women's national team stumbled to another draw at the 2019 SheBelieves Cup on Saturday, as England held them. The final score was 2-2, leaving the Lionesses tied with Japan at the top of the standings.

Megan Rapinoe opened the scoring with a stunning volley, but Steph Houghton tied things up just minutes later, blasting home an indirect free-kick.

Nikita Parris gave the visitors the lead in the second half after a well-worked move, and Tobin Heath set up a thrilling finale by prodding home the equaliser from a corner.

The USA had drawn their opening match against Japan, while England bagged a win over Brazil. England now have four points after two matches, tied with Japan at the top of the standings and two ahead of the Stars and Stripes. Japan have the superior goal difference.

   

Stars and Stripes Have a Goalkeeper Problem

The United States will start the 2019 World Cup as the defending champions and favourites for the title, but they still entered the SheBelieves Cup with some question marks surrounding the team.

The biggest was in goal, where the Stars and Stripes will be without Hope Solo this summer. Alyssa Naeher is the favourite to start, and she was the one Sports Illustrated's Laken Litman would keep an eye on:

Naeher has experience and a big fan in manager Jill Ellis, but she's not without her critics. She conceded twice in the opener against Japan―courtesy of some dreadful defending―and got injured during the contest.

Per sportswriter Caitlin Murray, she won't have the opportunity to impress in the remaining matches:

That opened the door for 28-year-old Adrianna Franch, an NWSL standout who had to wait a long time for her shot. Some fans have wanted to see the two-time defending NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year between the sticks for the USWNT for years, and against the Lionesses, she finally got her chance.

Franch didn't look terribly out of place, but shortly after Rapinoe's opener, she made a dreadful blunder that gave England the chance to tie things up. Picking up a back-pass inside her own box, she gifted the Lionesses an indirect free-kick with a rookie mistake a player with her experience shouldn't make.

The free-kick was well-struck by Houghton but aimed at the side of the goal Franch decided to defend―top goalkeepers have to make that save.

There was little she could do about the second goal.

Perhaps the errors were down to the nerves or a lack of experience at this level, but Franch did not leave a great impression and may find future caps hard to come by.

That leaves 33-year-old Ashlyn Harris as the only real option to provide Naeher competition ahead of the World Cup. It's a bad situation for the Stars and Stripes, who haven't had to worry about the goalkeeper position in years.

    

What's Next?

England will play Japan on Tuesday, while the USA face Brazil on the same day. The Lionesses will have to beat Japan to win the tournament due to an inferior goal difference.

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