On-field excellence and off-field issues are increasingly intertwined for the world champions, who earned a 1-0 victory in the SheBelieves Cup, a day after another burst of claims and counterclaims concerning their gender discrimination lawsuit.
Julie Ertz headed in Christen Press’s free kick in the 87th minute before an announced sellout of 26,500 at Red Bull Arena. The world’s top-ranked team extended its unbeaten streak to 30 and its home unbeaten run to 47 while beating a European foe for the 12th consecutive time.
The Americans appeared headed for their first scoreless performance since July 2017 until Press curled a free kick into the heart of the penalty area. The onrushing Ertz delivered a powerful header from eight yards for her 20th U.S. goal.
The first match of the day also featured late drama as sixth-ranked England defeated No. 10 Japan, 1-0, on Ellen White’s 83rd-minute goal.
The tournament will conclude Wednesday in greater Dallas with the United States (2-0-0) facing Japan (0-2-0), and England (1-1-0) playing No. 13 Spain (1-1-0).
Sunday’s activities came after the USSF and the players’ representatives continued trading barbs ahead of a May 5 trial in Los Angeles. The players are seeking more than $66 million in damages. Three weeks ago, both sides filed for summary judgment.
In a letter to federation members, Cordeiro said, among other things, the players have “repeatedly declined our invitation” to discuss a settlement.
The timing of Cordeiro’s letter did not sit well with the players.
“If that’s how you want to celebrate International Women’s Day and show support for not only your players but potentially future players and girls all over the place, that’s one way to do it,” forward Megan Rapinoe said. “It’s disappointing to see that stance from the federation, but personally from Carlos it shows the distance between us on some issues, and not all of it was true.”
Defender Becky Sauerbrunn added: “We would like to be focusing on soccer stuff, and unfortunately, we didn’t get to [do that] as much as we’d like. Ill-timed, for sure.”
On Saturday, after Cordeiro’s letter went public, Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the players, said Cordeiro’s letter was riddled with falsehoods. ... USSF did not and has never offered equal pay to the women players.”
USSF officials said representatives for the players have told them they will not meet unless the federation agrees to “filling the World Cup prize money gap.”
FIFA, which runs the World Cups, pays out $38 million to the men’s winner and $4 million to the women’s champion.
The USSF reiterated it will continue to advocate for FIFA to increase the women’s prize money but cannot pay them what the French men earned.
As for Sunday’s match, Spain gave another disciplined performance following a 2-1 defeat to the Americans last summer in the World Cup’s round of 16.
The Spaniards, who defeated Japan, 3-1, on Thursday, hit the post in the 24th minute, moved the ball with purpose and, at the other end, challenged the high-powered hosts to break them down. When they did, the Olympic-bound Americans were inefficient inside the penalty area.
“They had like 94 percent of possession — not an official number,” Rapinoe said, grinning. “This was not a great performance by us … but these performances are always better and more telling than if we go out and smash teams and everyone feels jolly about themselves.”
After intermission, Rose Lavelle was set up perfectly for a 20-yard shot with her trusty left foot; she missed high. Sam Mewis ripped a 25-yarder that drew a soaring save by Sandra Paños.
Spain launched a sustained threat, capped by Marta Cardona’s near miss. If the Spaniards ever develop a killer instinct in the attack, U.S. players said, they will become a serious contender.
“They are really cohesive, and they are bought into what they do,” Ertz said. “I have nothing but great things to say about the way they play. They play beautiful soccer.
“Sometimes, you have to grind it out in the end.”
In the first match, Japan’s Sakiko Ikeda made three quality saves in the first half, including two one-on-one gems, before England’s late breakthrough.
Substitute Toni Duggan intercepted a pass at the top of the penalty area and chipped into the box to White, the fifth-best scorer in program history, who had come off the bench in this match. The Manchester City striker volleyed a left-footed eight-yarder past Ikeda.
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