Last Wednesday, the United States Women's National Team scored two goals against Germany to secure a first place finish in the inaugural She Believes Cup. The vibrant tournament featured four of the top five teams in the world, with France and England joining the finalists. Despite the quality, only the opening match between the United States and England was widely televised via FS1. The remaining USWNT matches were broadcast on ESPN3 and online via app. Matches not featuring the USWNT weren't available for viewing online or otherwise in the United States.
The She Believes Cup Final was covered on ESPN3, because evidently space could not be found in the schedule of any network. Those who were able to watch were treated to an entertaining matchup between two strong sides. Here's a look at the goals.
Anja Mittag Puts Germany Ahead 1-0
Anja Mittag opened the scoring as the fortunate recipient of an Alexandra Popp defensive toe poke that dispossessed Morgan Brian. To be fair, Brian wasn't exactly helped by Ali Krieger's pass or subsequent outlet position. Isabel Kerschowski stepped in front of the free ball and skipped it forward to Mittag who dribbled towards centerfield before juking a half-step backwards to create space between herself and the onrushing Becky Sauerbrunn and Whitney Engen as Brian chased from behind. The 30 year old, now screened by the centerbacks, released a strike that wrong-footed Hope Solo to sneak into the near bottom corner.
Germany's high-pressing style created the turnover that led to the goal, but Engen, Sauerbrunn and Brian all had opportunities to close Mittag down prior to the shot. Hope Solo doesn't often have much to do in goal, but you'd like to see her keep her feet (even in the sand) and save long-distance efforts like this. That said, Mittag is one of the best in the world, and she's going to get her goals.
Alex Morgan Strikes Back. USA 1-1 GER
After going a goal down, the USWNT grew into the game, pushing back against Germany's press and doing better to challenge down field. After briefly mishandling a pass, Meghan Klingenberg spun away from her marker before turning upfield and spotting Alex Morgan streaking towards goal. Klingenberg's touch perfect thump landed just ahead of the striker who repositioned her body to screen Babett Peter as the ball took two bounces. With Saskia Bartusiak flying across the box towards her, Morgan lifted the ball over the German captain with her left foot before releasing a right-footed thunderstrike past the reach of keeper Almuth Schult.
A world-class effort in every respect by Alex Morgan, whose confidence in her fitness and various repaired parts seems to grow with every cap. Her cheeky volley couldn't have been anticipated by Bartusiak, who was left shaking her head when the ball passed over it.
Samantha Mewis Finds a Winner. USA 2-1 GER
Perhaps it's fitting that the beneficiary of a poor touch at one end would herself surrender the same going the other way. Anja Mittag's tackle kept possession away from Christen Press, but sent a searching ball towards Melanie Behringer, who took a poor touch and lost her feet as Samantha Mewis arrived from behind to claim the ball. Mewis found herself suddenly in wide open space without a challenger until nearly to the box. Her left-footed strike skipped off of Peter and took a bounce that completely disoriented Schult in goal. Schult clawed at the off-speed skipper and could only watch it go beneath her gloves and into the net.
On to Rio
A few friendlies await to tune up the side before the Summer Olympics, where frequent pests Japan will not be waiting for a re-match after having been eliminated from the 16-team field in Asian qualifiers a week ago. In the meantime, many of the USWNT players will report to camp for the National Women's Soccer League this week. We'll be watching!