US women’s soccer team ‘just getting started’ after fifth straight SheBelieves Cup victory

CNNInterim head coach Twila Kilgore said that the US Women’s National Team will only keep improving after winning a fifth straight SheBelieves Cup in a dramatic penalty shootout against Canada.

Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher made three saves and scored a penalty in the shootout after Tuesday’s game in Columbus, Ohio, ended 2-2.

Adriana Leon opened the scoring for Canada before US forward Sophia Smith scored two goals, the second of which gave the US the lead after Smith was put through on goal by Trinity Rodman.

But a penalty awarded against Crystal Dunn, somewhat harshly, was converted by Leon to force a shootout, although Kadeisha Buchanan had a superb chance to win the match for Canada when her header thumped off the bar.

In the shootout, Emily Sonnett could have handed the US victory with the team’s fifth attempt after Smith, Naeher, and captain Lindsey Horan had scored but she sent her effort high into the stands.

However, Naeher made her third save against Evelyne Viens, allowing Emily Fox to step up and coolly roll the crucial penalty into the back of the net.


“Winning is hard. It’s not easy, it never will be easy,” Kilgore, who will soon be replaced by current Chelsea manager Emma Hayes, told reporters.

“I’m just so proud of this group’s ability to find a way – find a way within our DNA, find a way while trying to play our style of play and evolve our style of play – and I just love the sense of pride that we have in the team.

“I’m proud of who we are right now, very proud of who we’re becoming. We have a growth mindset, we’re getting better, and like I said at Gold Cup, this team is just getting started.”

The victory marked the US’ seventh SheBelieves Cup title and fifth in a row after previous wins against Spain, Brazil, Iceland and Japan.

Leon put Canada ahead shortly before the end of the first half when Naeher rushed off her line but failed to clear the ball, leaving a sparsely guarded net behind her.

Smith equalized on 50 minutes with a fine left-footed strike from the edge of the box and calmly added a second later in the half, only for Leon’s spot kick to cancel out the USA’s narrow advantage.


After defeating Brazil to win the inaugural W Gold Cup last month, the US beat Japan 2-1 on Saturday to set up a showdown against Canada. The victory will give the team confidence ahead of the Olympics later this year with a fifth gold medal – and first since 2012 – on the line.

Hayes will take over as the new head coach after finishing the current season with Chelsea and has games against South Korea and Mexico before the Olympics get underway in Paris.

“I think we’ve just done a really good job setting the stage for her to come in and make her next steps,” said Kilgore. “I will be there to support her and the team as we move forward and that’s an exciting thing.”