Two first-half goals by Mallory Swanson gave the USA a 2-0 opener victory over Canada on Thursday night at the Sheriff’s Cup in Orlando, Florida.
Players from both teams wore wristbands in support of gender equality and transgender rights during the game and huddled in the center of the circle in an embrace before kick-off in a show of solidarity with a Canadian team in the midst of a labor dispute with its union before the game began. World Cup this summer.
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Swanson fired a shot into the middle of the area in the seventh minute and fired a volley past Canadian Kaelen Sheridan to put the United States ahead early, then took advantage of a mistake from the visiting defense to roll the ball into the open net before the end of the first half.
A brace gave Swanson five goals in her first three appearances for the United States in 2023 after scoring three times in two matches against New Zealand in January.
Canada’s captain Christine Sinclair said the team was “mentally exhausted” after the week they had endured.
“Either we fight about everything and we come out on fire or we come out flat. And I think you saw those first 10 or 15 minutes, we came out flat,” Sinclair said.
“I think we looked like a tired team, a mentally exhausted team, facing a team, I mean they are defending World Cup champions for a reason and you have to be at your best to compete with them. And we weren’t tonight.”
American goalkeeper Alyssa Naher maintained the lead just before half-time, blocking Janine Becky’s shot from outside the penalty area. Naher also saved a header from Jordyn Hetema in the 74th minute.
Her third save came in the 91st minute with a header from Vanessa Giles.
It was also a historic night for Alex Morgan, who was honored before the game for making her 200th national team appearance, which happened late last year against Germany.
Brazil beat Japan 1-0 in the first match with two headers. The four-team SheBelieves Cup moves to Nashville, Tennessee, on Sunday, where the United States will play Japan and Canada will play Brazil. All four teams qualified for the World Cup. The United States has won the last two World Cups and has four titles overall.
“It’s on our minds,” Morgan said after the game. “That’s why we play these games. All we’re doing now is just to put ourselves in the competition for the World Cup.”
The Americans won their first SheBelieves Cup in 2016. France were the champions in 2017 and England claimed the title in 2019. The USA has won five times, including 2018 and the past three editions.
According to the formula, the winner is determined by the sum of the points (three for a win, one for a tie) with the use of a tiebreaker if necessary.
Information from Reuters is used in this report.