The SheBelieves Cup wrapped up as the hosts U.S. defeated England 1-0 to win the tournament title—we look at the four games this past week as well as review the final results from the three Spring Tournaments for National Teams held in Europe; the Turkey Women's Cup, the Algarve Cup in Portugal and the Cyprus Cup.
U.S. Takes SheBelieves Cup with a narrow victory over England
In the third set of SheBelieves Cup games on March 7 in Orlando, Florida, the U.S. entered the final match tied with England with 4 points for a winner take-all affair for the title, but the Americans had a lower Goal Difference (-1 to +3, meaning that England would take the tournament title) with a tie or a win. The U.S. won their second SheBelieves Cup title in three editions of the annual tournament with a 1-0 win in Orlando in front of 12,351 fans. The winning goal came from an own goal when winger Megan Rapinoe put in a cross from the left side that Millie Bright (Chelsea) and goalkeeper Karen Bardsley (Manchester City) failed to communicate clearly on, with both hindering each other; from what should have been a routine save, the ball trickled into the net off of Bardsley's leg. The U.S. finished first with 7 points, England was second with 4 points (+2 Goal Differential).
France belied its opening game blasting by England (4-1) to defeat Germany 3-0 on March 7, with a goal and two assists from Eugenia La Sommer (Olympique Lyon). Amandine Henry (Olympique Lyon and ex-Portland Thorns) and Valerie Gauvin (Montpellier) also scored. France as a team outshot Germany 9-7, with a 6-3 advantage for shots on goal. France, last year's SheBelieves Cup champions, finished with a 1-1-1 record for 4 points, but with their 0 goal difference, they finished third while Germany ended in last place with only 1 point from their 3 games. To be fair Germany used primarily players who did not play much in this tournament in their final match while France used primarily its starting side, as opposed to the younger squad which started the England match on Day 1.
In the second round of SheBelieves Cup matches on March 4, two goals within three minutes in the first half left the host Americans and France deadlocked with a 1-1 tie in front of 25,706 at Red Bull Arena, in Harrison, New Jersey, which is west of New York City. Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit) opened the scoring in the 35th minute with Eugenia LeSommer (Olympique Lyon) replying in the 38th minute, taking a long ball from her club teammate defender Griedge Mbock Bathy and rounding U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), to slot the ball home. In a fascinating game, France actually held the advantage over the Americans in shots 13-11 and shots on goal 4-2
In the second game on March 4, Germany tied England 2-2, a repeat of their 2015 Women's World Cup Third Place match that England won 1-0 in overtime. Ellen White (Birmingham City) scored both goals for England, while Hasret Kayikci (SC Freiburg) scored for Germany and their second goal came courtesy of a Millie Bright (Chelsea) own goal.
European National Team Spring Tournament Wrap-up
Turkish Women's Cup
Two undefeated teams—Mexico and France B—faced off for the Turkish Women's Cup title on March 6, with the Europeans defeating CONCACAF's representatives 2-1.
Claire Lavogez (FC Fleury 91), who played for France's senior side at the 2015 Women's World Cup, had a strong game up front on the wing. France won through goals from Delphine Cascarino (Olympique Lyon) and Annaig Butel (Paris FC), with the latter scoring the winner from Lavogez's corner. Monica Ocampo scored Mexico's lone goal with about ten minutes remaining, but France B's superior technical play and creativity left it a tough task for Mexico to fight back. France B won all of their group games through shutouts of Kosovo (6-0), Kazakhstan (6-0) and Romania (3-0). Mexico won its third straight group match on March 4 at the Turkish Tournament with a 1-0 win over Poland, with Katelyn Johnson (Sky Blue FC for 2018) scoring the only goal in the 89th minute.
Other final day results on March 6 saw the Ukraine beat Poland on penalties 3-1 after a 0-0 tie to capture third. Kosovo defeated Northern Ireland 1-0 in the 5th/6th place match, Romania defeated Jordan 2-1 for 7th and Latvia beat Kazakhstan 2-1 to finish 9th, leaving the Kazakhs at the bottom of the table.
The ten teams' final standings were:
1. France (B)
6. Northern Ireland
This edition of the Turkish Women's Cup was due to have 12 teams but first Turkey was replaced by Kosovo B and then Nigeria had to withdraw late for visa issues so Kosovo B did not participate to keep an even number of teams. This tournament, known last year as the Alanya Goldcity Cup, was a four team tournament in 2017 and Poland defeated the host 2-1 in the final, with Romania and Kosovo also participating. Poland and Kosovo finished in a respectable fourth and fifth place respectively in 2018 with a broader range of competition, particularly with Mexico, France B, Ukraine and Jordan joining the field.
Jordan's presence was a strong sign for the tournament, with the Nashmiyat playing four matches, losing 2-0 to Poland, 5-1 to Mexico, defeating Latvia 2-1, and losing a close game to Romania 2-1 in the placement round. Jordan will host the AFC playoffs which start during the first week in April. Jordan is placed in Group A with China, Thailand and the Philippines; they have to be optimistic about their chances to be one of the 5 teams to advance to France 2019 from the 8 finalists, after playing exhibition matches against three Spanish clubs last month and then four games against European sides and Mexico in Turkey. Stephanie Al Naber still captains the side, and she has played abroad in Denmark while in school and in the United Arab Emirates.
In the 2018 Algarve Cup in Portugal, the placement games were held on March 7th but the first and second place game between Sweden and the Netherlands was cancelled due to heavy winds and rains. Sweden and the Netherlands were named co-champions as a result. Sweden had won the Algarve Cup title in 1995, 2001 and 2009. For the Netherlands, the 2018 shared title was their first, far surpassing their previous highest placing of 5th place in 1997 and 2017, out of five total appearances.
In other matches to determine final placing on March 7th, Portugal finished third by shocking Australia 2-1, which was their best ever performance (after a 5th place finish in the first edition in 1994 when only 6 teams participated) and did not lose a game. Nadia Gomes (ex-BYU and Orlando Pride draft pick) and Vanessa Malho scored for Portugal, with Sydney FC defender Caitlin Cooper scoring the loan reply. Canada took fifth with a 2-0 win over Japan. Korea Republic versus Norway was also suspended due to the weather for 7th and 8th after a 0-0 tie after halftime, while Iceland and Denmark tied 1-1 in the 9th/10th place game, with Iceland taking the penalty kick decider round 5-4. China PR finally won a tournament game, defeating Russia 2-1 to finish 11th.
Canada lost its first group game in the tournament 3-1 to Sweden but then finished off Russia 1-0 and Korea Republic 3-0. In the match against the Korea Republic, Captain and forward Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns) scored twice, her 171st and 172nd international goals, putting her now only 12 goals from the world record currently held by now retired American forward Abby Wambach. Jessie Fleming (UCLA) earned her fifth goal in her 50th full national team outing. Head Coach Kenneth Heiner-Møller said about the win over the Koreans: "Overall, we are happy with Canada's performance. Tonight we demonstrated the kind of intensity and level of play we expect of ourselves, so this was a better match, but we were building towards it and I think it shows that this team continues to be a real force. This tournament is about getting ready for the CONCACAF Women's Championships later this year, to qualify for the FIFA Women's World Cup. We've had the opportunity to work on some things that are really going to benefit us moving through this year. Now, we will wait to see who we play in our final match, but I am really pleased."
In the 5th/6th place match on March 7th, Canada's goals came from Janine Beckie (Sky Blue FC in 2018 after two years with the Houston Dash) and Ashley Lawrence (Paris St. Germain) to give the Maple Leafs the win over Japan. Stephanie Labbe, still club-less after being released by the Washington Spirit this preseason, recorded the shutout, the 21st of her national team career.
Canada next plays France on April 9 away at Roazhan Park in Rennes, one of nine stadiums to be used for next summer's Women's World Cup. Canada has a high profile friendly scheduled against Germany in Hamilton, Ontario—about 90 minutes' drive from Toronto and near Niagara Falls—on June 10. Canada is targeting to be at their peak for the 2018 CONCACAF Women's Championship from 4 to 17 October, with 8 sides from which the top-three nations will all qualify for France 2019, while the fourth-place nation will advance to an intercontinental playoff against the third-place nation from South America.
In Group A, Australia and Portugal deadlocked on points (7) and goal difference (+3) including a 0-0 tie in their second day match but the Matildas scored6 times to 4 for Portugal. Norway, who lost to Portugal 2-0 in the last group game, continues to struggle as they did in last summer EUROS where they finished with no points in the first round—this time they had 1 win for 3 points and China PR ended group play with 0 points. The shocker of the tournament had to be Portugal's 2-1 defeat of 2015 WWC Quarterfinalists China 2-1 in the opening match. Australia won their third group match 2-0 over China, in what could be a preview for AFC World Cup qualifiers next month. The teams start in different groups but could meet in the knockout stage.
In Group B Sweden triumphed with 7 points on 2 wins and 1 tie to win the group, while Canada was second with 6 points. Korea Republic finished third with 4 points and Russia lost all 3 games.
In Group C the Netherlands went undefeated for 7 points, tying Iceland 0-0 in their last game, and had an outstanding 6-2 win over 2015 WWC finalists Japan in the opener, with Lieke Martins (Barcelona) and Stefanie van der Gragt (playing for Ajax after a season with Bayern Munich of Germany) scoring two goals each. The Dutch also defeated Denmark 3-2 in a repeat of last summer's EUROS Final. Japan was second in Group C play with 6 points, Iceland had 2 points and Denmark 1 point.
Spain won the 2018 edition of the Cyprus Women's Cup after defeating Italy 2-0 in the First/Second Placement Final on March 7th. Spain won the Algarve Cup in 2017; their consecutive Spring Tournament wins should see them as a favorite for 2019's World Cup—they are currently at the top of their UEFA World Cup Qualifying Group 7 with 9 points, two points ahead of Finland with both teams having played 3 of their 8 matches—and a chance to improve on their 2015 inaugural Women's World Cup tournament disappointment, where they lost to Brazil and South Korea and tied Costa Rica to finish bottom of the group. Second half goals came from defender Amanda Sampedro (current league champions Atletico Madrid) and 19-year-old midfielder Patri Guijarro (Barcelona) to give Spain the Cyprus Cup title.
In other placement games, for third and fourth place, Korea DPR defeated Switzerland 2-1, with the winner coming in injury time from Kim Yun Mi (April 25 Sports Club in Korea DPR), which saw Switzerland score through Rachel Rinast (FC Basel after the German-born defender played for a variety of clubs in Germany) after Korea DPR's second goal. Korea DPR won three games with one tie in the tournament. Belgium defeated South Africa 2-1 in the 5th-6th place match while Austria finished 7th after defeating Wales on penalties 3-2 after a 1-1 tie. The Belgium game was South Africa's first loss of the Cyprus Cup. Host Czech Republic defeated Slovakia 5-2 with their Slavia Prague strikers Tereza Kozarorova and Tereza Szewieczkova each scoring twice, with Szewieczkova scoring her brace in the 89th and 95th minutes for the winners. Finland held off Hungary in the 11th/12th place match.
1st – Spain
2nd – Italy
3rd – Korea DPR
4th – Switzerland
5th – Belgium
6th – South Africa
7th – Austria
8th – Wales
9th – Czech Republic
10th – Slovakia
11th – Finland
12th – Hungary
Italy won Group A with 7 points, Switzerland was second on goal difference over Wales (+1 vs -2) as both teams had 4 points and Finland had 1 point.
In Group B , Spain had 7 points, Belgium 4 and Austria and Czech Republic finished with 3 points each, with Austria having a slightly better Goal Differential (-2 vs -3)
For Group C, Korea DPR pipped South Africa for first with 7 points versus 5 for the CAF team, with Slovakia finishing in third on 2 points and Hungary fourth with 1 point. Korea DPR and South Africa tied 0-0 in their final Group Game. South Africa also tied with Slovakia in the opener 0-0, with their lone win and goal coming in a 1-0 win over Hungary.
Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribal Football. His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.
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