- Swanson on target again
- Has scored in five straight matches
- U.S. look ahead to SheBelieves Cup finale against Brazil
TELL ME MORE: The match, by and large, was a tactical duel between two of the world's top teams, with Japan largely holding their own with the USWNT. To their credit, Japan were generally pretty comfortable until Swanson's goal out of nowhere just before half-time.
Starting deep in their own end, Sofia Huerta's lob over the top fell to Alex Morgan, who played in Swanson with a through ball. The USWNT forward pushed towards goal before tucking a shot just inside the post, giving the U.S. the lead.
They'd hold that lead for the rest of the match, but it wouldn't come easy, as several Japan attackers were stifled by Casey Murphy in goal. Vlatko Andonovsi, in some ways, will be pleased as his USWNT side was tested in a big way, but were unable to truly put Japan away despite narrowly surviving.
THE MVP: Guess who? Swanson remains unstoppable and, so far this year, she's been totally inevitable. Make it five straight matches with a goal for the USWNT forward, who has scored six times in total on just 11 shots. There's "in-form" and then there's whatever Swanson is right now, which is a whole new level that few in the world can match. Swanson's pace, finishing ability and, most importantly, confidence are on full display every time she takes the field, which is great news for the USWNT as the World Cup draws closer and closer.
THE BIG LOSER: Not a specific player, but a unit: the USWNT midfield. The center of the field remains a problem for Andonovski, who hasn't yet found the right combination. Kristy Mewis was among the better performers, while Lindsey Horan's plane ticket is all but locked in. Ashley Sanchez, meanwhile, isn't a lock and didn't have the best game. Could she end up regretting this one? Possibly, but the fact is that Andonovski still has a lot of work to do when it comes to sorting out his midfield three.
MATCH IN THREE PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT? The USWNT will finish off their run through the SheBelieves Cup against Brazil, who topped Japan in their opening match. Japan, meanwhile, will look ahead to a match against Canada as they look to close the tournament on a high after losing their first two matches.
MATCH RATING (OUT OF FIVE): ⭐⭐⭐