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Rapinoe, Heath score as USWNT draws England in SheBelieves Cup.

United States midfielder Rose Lavelle (16) and England defender Lucy Bronze (2) battle for the ball during the first half of a SheBelieves Cup women's soccer match Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

NASHVILLE  Wearing the name of the late great poet and civil rights activist Audre Lorde on the back of her jersey, Megan Rapinoe’s goal felt a bit like poetry.

Before the 33-year-old women’s soccer star delivered a stunning shot from her right foot, putting punctuation on the end of the play, the buildup to the first score of the day for the U.S. women’s national team featured six different players touching the ball. Kelley O’ Hara glided up the right sideline, sailed in a cross and found Rapinoe, who chested the ball, then one-timed the volley with a blast that flew past England’s keeper, Karen Bardsley.

“A ridiculous goal. Just world class,” U.S. head coach Jill Ellis said. “I thought (Rapinoe) was a true captain today, I felt for us. She worked hard. Her play tonight was inspiring. She’s a player that you just have to have on the pitch, in terms of set pieces, in terms of game-changing moments.”

But England responded. The Lionesses equalized, then scored once more before the U.S. found another goal. On a cold day in the Music City, the U.S. played its rival from across the pond to a 2-2 draw in front of an announced crowd of 22,125 fans in the SheBelieves Cup at Nissan Stadium.

Although they equalized and left the match with a point, it felt like the U.S. left some chances on the pitch. The Stars and Stripes out-shot England 20-6, held 54 percent of possession, and took five corners.

“Gutted, for sure. And pissed,” Rapinoe said about her feelings after the match. “I think that we just made some errors, both tactical and tons of technical errors, but I felt there was more in there — in the game — that we could’ve taken advantage of and we just didn’t. Credit to (England), obviously, but no, I think there was a lot more in there for us. Two draws in a row is not good enough.”

Like Rapinoe, the entire U.S. women’s national team’s kits did not feature their own names across their shoulders, but instead each player picked a woman that inspired them and carried their name. Mallory Pugh picked Beyonce, Crystal Dunn sported Serena Williams’ name, Rose Lavelle chose J.K Rowling, while Alex Morgan picked a former U.S. women’s national team star, Abby Wambach.

Making her first start in goal for the U.S., goalkeeper Adrianna Franch – the 2018 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year – wore the name of one of her predecessors, Briana Scurry, who played in four World Cups. Franch, 28, became the eighth goalkeeper to feature for the U.S. since 2002.

Her debut did not go as planned. The hopes of a clean sheet vanished in the 36th minute, when Steph Houghton notched the equalizer for England, sending a short indirect free kick into the net, just out of reach for a diving Franch.

The indirect free kick came about after Franch scooped up a back-pass from Pugh.

“It was just a little mishap,” Franch said. “We’ll learn from it.”

England scored its second goal of the day in the 53rd minute when Nikita Parris received a through ball from Fran Kirby, and sliced a shot by Franch that landed just inside the far post.

“We wanted to go into the World Cup with the toughest schedule to prepare us the best we can, and I think these games push us to our limits in different ways,” U.S. defender Tierna Davidson said.

After coming close to it’s second goal of the day several times, the U.S. broke through in the 67th minute, scoring after much persistence. Following a U.S. corner kick, the ball was touched seven times in the box before Tobin Heath slotted the shot home after a defender’s deflection.

“In a World Cup, it matters how many you put in the back of the net and little you let in yours. And we know that,” U.S. midfielder Julie Ertz said. “This is the time to try things. This is not the moment we want to peak exactly, but we see some really good things, so I’m really happy with that. I’m really happy with the perseverance of this team for the full 90 minutes.

“We have the opportunity. We just need to put more in the back of the net.”

With two points now in the SheBelieves Cup, the U.S. women will face Brazil at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla to round out the tournament. England, which has four points in the tournament, will face Japan in the same venue on the same day at 4:25 p.m. ET.

“I think that we’re going to be looking to sharpen our final passes and our final touches in the box,” Davidson said. “Both offensively and defensively, I think that we have some critical errors to work on. We’ll definitely be sharpening a couple things.”





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