SheBelieves Cup: 'Last five percent' remains elusive for USA

The USA closes out the 2019 SheBelieves Cup on Tuesday when it faces Brazil in the tournament finale in Tampa.

By the time the game kicks off, the USA will know if it still has a chance of repeating as champion.

Japan and England, which play in the first game at Raymond James Stadium, are tied for the tournament lead with four points -- wins over Brazil and ties against the USA. The winner of the Japan-England game will capture the title. The USA will still be alive only if the first game ends in a tie -- and then will need to beat Brazil.

“We still feel we can win the tournament, which was the goal from the outset,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. “It makes it challenging in terms of having to rely on another result, but I think this team right now is very focused."

The big problem for the USA in its 2-2 ties against Japan and England was on the defensive end, so Brazil with the great Marta -- "uber creative," according to Ellis -- will provide a good test.

"This is a team that likes to get forward quickly," Ellis said, "so we need to make sure that if we can't win the ball back immediately -- which is part of our mentality -- that we are organized to deal with their transition."

Consistency has been a issue for the USA, which is 1-1-2 after four games in 2019.

"We're still locked on in terms of out processes," Ellis added. "The players understand this is the last five percent we need to do to get things completely right. We've got to be focused for 90-plus minutes. There are a lot of good decisions and then it breaks down. We've got to manage better in terms of the things that we do. And that's on all of us -- the coaches, the players, everybody."

1 comment about "SheBelieves Cup: 'Last five percent' remains elusive for USA".
  1. Bob Ashpole, March 5, 2019 at 11:27 p.m.

    The difference between the best amateur players and professional players is less than 5%.

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