One year after losing 3-0 to France at the SheBelieves Cup, the USA played the French to a 1-1 tie thanks to a Mallory Pugh goal. The tie came after the USA opened the 2018 SheBelieves Cup with a 1-0 win over Germany. The USA, which won the inaugural SheBelieves Cup in 2016 and finished fourth in 2017, can claim the title of the four-team completion on Wednesday when it faces England.
1. Mallory Pugh gives an MVP performance.
Mallory Pugh, two months shy of her 20th birthday, scored the ninth goal of her full national team career and her third goal of 2018 in the 35th minute. In midst of a goalmouth scramble, Pugh slid to reach the ball with her left foot and struck it past French goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi from seven yards out. The 19-year-old Pugh was France's most troubling foe and took some hard hits before being subbed in the 73rd minute. In the 61st minute, Pugh chose to pass instead of go for goal. It would behoove her and benefit the USA if she played more "selfishly" in such situations as she appears to be the USA's most lethal attacker.
2. The French rebound.
After France opened with 4-1 loss to England, French coach Corinne Diacre said she was "very angry" and "ashamed" of her players. She made eight changes from the lineup against England for the U.S. game, benching a number of the younger players she had given a chance in the opener. The result was an evenly played game against the Americans and an earned tie thanks to Eugenie LeSommer's goal in the 38th minute. Le Sommer ran on to a perfectly lofted pass by Griedge Mbock Bathy from near the halfway line, fended off a weak challenge by Abby Dahlkemper, and rounded goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher before stroking the ball into the net.
3. Alyssa Naeher makes the clutch saves.
Some of the USA's most dangerous play came after Christian Press entered the game in the 76th minute, and the USA fought hard for the gamewinner in last 10 minutes. But the French had the best chances to break the tie, which provided Naeher a opportunity to show her ability to make the kind of big saves that the USA had relied for so long with Hope Solo between the posts. Naeher blocked Valerie Gauvin's one-on-one shot from 10 yards in the 82nd minute and made a leg save off Amandine Henry's shot from inside the goal area one minute later.
TRIVIA: Pugh, with nine goals at 19 years and 10 months old, ranks fourth in goals scored by U.S. players before their 20th birthday: Cindy Parlow (15), Mia Hamm (14) and Christie Welsh (11).
March 4 in Harrison, N.J.
USA 1 France 1. Goals: Pugh 35; Le Sommer (Mbock Bathy) 38.
USA -- Naeher; Smith (Short, 44, Press, 76), Dahlkemper, Davidson, O’Hara; Sullivan (Lloyd, 73), Brian, Horan (McCaskill, 46); Pugh (Dunn, 73), Morgan, Rapinoe (Williams, 46).
France -- Bouhaddi; Torrent, Mbock Bathy, Tounkara, Majri; Asseyi, Geyoro, Henry, Le Sommer; Gauvin (Diani, 86), Thiney.
Yellow cards: France -- Asseyi 30, Torrent 33 Le Sommer 90.
Referee: Lucila Venegas (Mexico)
USA / FRA
Shots: 11 / 13
Shots on Goal: 2 / 4
Saves: 3 / 1
Corner Kicks: 7 / 4
Fouls: 9 / 13
Offside: 4 / 4