The 2016 SheBelieves Cup wasn't just about winning -- which the USA did with three straight victories -- it was about sorting out rosters for the Rio Olympics, where teams will only be able to carry
18 players. With that in mind, the USA's 2-1 win over Germany in Wednesday's tournament finale was significant as Jill Ellis gave five players, several on the bubble, their first starts of the
The national team picture has changed a lot since the
Women's World Cup. Three players (Lauren Holiday, Shannon Boxx and Lori Chalupny) retired, two (Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux) became pregnant and two others
(longtime captain Christie Rampone and midfield starMegan Rapinoe) have been sidelined with a serious knee injury. On top of that, youngsters Mallory Pugh,
Lindsey Horan and Crystal Dunn have come in and taken on big roles on the national team.
Ali Krieger, Whitney Engen, Samantha Mewis, Christen
Press and Dunn earned their first starts of the tournament against Germany.
Krieger, Press and Dunn would seem to be in good shape to make the 18 for Rio, but Engen and Mewis are
battling for spots and certainly didn't hurt their chances with their performances against Germany.
Engen had not been part of the team that qualified for the Olympics and was starting
her first game since Jan. 24 against Ireland in the season opener. First, she lost a shot at a starting job next to Beckie Sauerbrunn -- taken by Julie Johnston -- when she was sidelined
with a hamstring injury on the eve of the 2015 Algarve Cup. She is now likely competing with NWSL rookie Emily Sonnett for the third spot at center back on the Olympic roster behind Sauerbrunn
Mewis scored the winning goal when she stole the ball from Germany midfielder Melanie Behringer and hit a left-footed shot from just over 20 yards out that deflected
off a Germany defender and fooled German goalkeeper Almuth Schult. The start was just the third for Mewis, who had been recruited by Ellis to attend UCLA before Ellis left after the 2010
Ellis said she wanted to see how Mewis, who is contending for a backup spot in midfield, could handle the physical work of facing a team like Germany, and she certainly passed the
The goal capped off the scoring, which took place in a span of 12 minutes. Anja Mittag put Germany ahead in the 29th minute, taking advantage of a turnover by Morgan
Brian after a pass from Krieger in the U.S. half, and Alex Morgan equalized six minutes later with a spectral effort.
TRIVIA. The goal the USA allowed was the first in nine games in 2016, all wins.