USA women edge Japan in SheBelieves Cup after conceding in first minute

Lindsey Horan converted a penalty in the 77th minute and the United States came from behind to beat Japan 2-1 to open the SheBelieves Cup in front of a record crowd on Saturday.

Jaedyn Shaw also scored for the United States in the match played in front of 50,644 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a record for a US women’s friendly on home soil. It was also the largest crowd for a women’s match in the United States since the 1999 World Cup final.

The match also marked the return of both Mallory Swanson and Catarina Macario after lengthy absences due to injury.

Japan scored 30 seconds into the match. Kiko Seike charged down the wing and eluded a defender with a shot that was beyond the reach of American goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. It was the first time since 2003 that the US had conceded a goal in the opening minute.

Swanson started her first match in almost a year since injuring her patellar tendon in a friendly against Ireland last year. The injury kept her out of the Women’s World Cup last summer.

Swanson almost scored in the 15th minute, but a goal-line clearance from the Japanese goalkeeper denied her. In the 72nd minute she had another good chance.

Macario entered the match as a second-half substitute, making her first appearance with the national team in two years after tearing an ACL in a match with Lyon.

Shaw, playing as a number 10, scored through traffic with a blast from outside the penalty area to equalize. Shaw, 19, is the first American player with five goals in five consecutive career starts.

Moments before Shaw’s goal, the United States was injured when defender Naomi Girma was knocked out with an apparent right thigh injury. Girma was last year’s American Footballer of the Year.

Horan’s winning penalty came after Sophia Smith was brought down in the penalty area.

Korbin Albert came into the match as a second-half substitute following a controversy over previous social media posts. Albert, 20, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain, had reposted anti-LGBTQ+ content on her TikTok account.

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Albert apologized and said: “Liking and sharing posts that are offensive, insensitive and hurtful was immature and disrespectful, which was never my intention.”

Alex Morgan addressed the issue in a statement earlier this week, noting that the team was handling the matter internally.

“We support maintaining a safe and respectful space, especially as allies and members of the LGBTQ+ community. This platform has given us the opportunity to highlight causes that are important to us, something we never take for granted. We will continue to use this platform to raise awareness of causes,” said Morgan.

Brazil was scheduled to play Canada in Atlanta on Saturday. The results will determine the matches for Tuesday’s SheBelieves Cup matches in Columbus, Ohio.

All teams participating in the SheBelieves Cup have qualified for the Olympic Games in France this summer.