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Three takeaways from USWNT win over Spain in SheBelieves Cup

Spain frustrated the U.S., Christen Press entered late and there was some confusion over the captain’s band.

nited States' Julie Ertz (8) battles Spain's Patricia Guijarro (12) and Irene Paredes (4) for the ball during the SheBelieves Cup at Red Bull Arena on March 08, 2020 in Harrison, N.J. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

HARRISON, N.J. — The U.S. women’s national team remained perfect with Vlatko Andonovski in charge by beating Spain 1-0 in the SheBelieves Cup on Sunday. 

The USWNT earned the victory thanks to an 87th-minute header from Julie Ertz. An announced crowd of 26,500 fans were on hand at Red Bull Arena as the U.S. was stymied and frustrated at times by a strong possession-oriented tactical plan from Spain. The 17th-ranked team in the FIFA world rankings created several quality chances against the World Cup champions, but once again, the Americans found a way to win. 

The USWNT improved to 9-0-0 in the Andonovski era and the win was its second at the 2020 SheBelieves Cup.

Here are three takeaways from the USWNT win over La Roja at the SheBelieves Cup.

Frustrating Spain

The USWNT looked out of sorts vs. Spain and struggled to create quality scoring opportunities.

Spain was able to keep possession and dictate large stretches of the match. If not for Ertz scoring her 20th international goal, it is likely that the USWNT’s 57-game scoring streak could have come to an end.

Spain did everything but score. For the U.S., the second half substitution of Tobin Heath and the in-form Christen Press changed the complexion of the match with Press setting up Ertz. 

“They put together a very almost complete performance,” Megan Rapinoe told Pro Soccer USA after the match. “Minus obviously putting some goals away or having a lot of chances. It’s hard to do that, to control the game for that long against a really good team in us. The pressure that we put on, we couldn’t really get to them today. I felt like we were always a step off, which was frustrating for us.”

Where was Christen Press?

Despite scoring eight goals in her previous eight matches, Press did not earn the start against Spain.

Instead, the 31-year-old entered the match in the 67th minute for Rapinoe.

Press instantly created scoring chances for herself and her teammates. She darted down the flank and was a threat whenever she was in Spain’s penalty box. While fans might be clammoring for Press to be a permanent starter in Andonovski’s starting eleven, she doesn’t seem bothered. Press continues to dazzle with how much, or how little playing time she is given.

Was Press surprised to come off the bench vs Spain?

“Not at all,” she told Pro Soccer USA. “I tell you every time you ask me, I do the job that I’m given. It’s a joy to come on the field in the 67th minute and play for this team and fight for a win. I feel very blessed.”

Armband-Gate

Wearing the captain’s armband is a prestigious honor in professional sports, but there is only one armband to be worn and that seems to have caused a commotion among fans on social media.

Players like Carli Lloyd have taken notice. Julie Ertz earned her 100th cap last week in the U.S. 2-0 win over England. Lloyd wore the armband and that didn’t sit well.

Crystal Dunn was honored pre-match before taking on Spain for earning her 100th cap in February. Dunn wore the armband in the first half vs Spain, but it didn’t stay there. Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn both wore the armband in the second half?

What happened?

“It’s a good question before all the Twitter trolls come out,” Lloyd explained. “We had a little technical difficulty because Crystal’s bicep isn’t as big. It kept sliding down her arm. She was over it at halftime. She said, ‘I need to get in the weight room a little more’ and she gave me the armband back. It was even sliding off my arm. I don’t know if she stretched it out, we’ll have to ask Becky how it fit on her.”

The Americans will finish play in the SheBelieves Cup on Wednesday, taking on Japan in Frisco, Texas at 8 p.m. ET.

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