Professional soccer returns to Chester tonight as four top ten international women’s teams clash. The fourth annual #SheBelieves Cup kicks off at Talen Energy Stadium at 4PM when fourth ranked England takes on tenth ranked Brazil. Following that clash the number one ranked USWNT will play eighth ranked Japan at 7PM on FoxSports1 (FS1)
What started as a hashtag on twitter in 2015 has now become one of the world’s most impressive international soccer tournaments each year since. Entering its fourth year the #SheBelieves Cup begins tonight in Chester.
SheBelieves is a ‘movement’ both conceived and developed by the U.S. Women’s National Team players. The goal is simple: inspire and encourage young girls in hopes that they accomplish their highest dreams and goals whether it be academically, athletically, or otherwise. Prior to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the campaign sparked national attention on social media. It has since evolved into something rarely seen in professional sports – a tournament that aims to make impacts far outside the white lines of the soccer pitch.
And this year two new teams were added to the foursome. Brazil and Japan will accompany England and USWNT as they travel along the east coast to three cities over a brief six-day period. The tournament moves to Nashville March 2nd and will conclude in Tampa, Florida March 5th.
For now, the women will have to adapt to the frigid seasonal temperatures along the Delaware River tonight. Fans will get a wonderful opportunity to see how USWNT are fairing after an up and down start to 2019.
Last month, USWNT traveled to France and Spain. Back on January 19th, they suffered a stinging 3-1 loss on France’s turf before traveling to Spain three days later to secure a 1-0 win thanks to a Christen Press goal. Now, the US women return to Chester where they have found continued success.
Through six games at Talen Energy Stadium, the USWNT has yet to be beaten sporting a flashy 5-0-1 record. In fact, their run of play in Chester over the last four matches is very threatening as they earned clean sheets in each match.
However, Japan will be a tough challenge for USWNT. Japan sports a youth-filled roster. They are a team eager to show the world they can compete with elite international competition. The Japanese roster will feature an impressive group of U-20 players fresh off a U-20 Cup win.
“This tournament will give us the opportunity to test our current strengths as well as to see what we need to do to win the World Cup, so I personally am looking forward to this event,” said Takakura Asako – Head Coach of Nadeshiko Japan (Japan Women’s National Team). Asako has “high expectations surrounding the chosen players ahead of our first tournament in the year of the World Cup,” as her team looks to make impacts in this year’s tournament.
As for the first match of the night, England and Brazil should thrill onlookers. Six-time FIFA Player of the Year Marta will hope to shine for Brazil early on. Marta and her strike partner Cristiane will look to wreak havoc on an always formidable England team.
England’s leader is Steph Houghton and she will look to maintain order against a quick Brazilian team. Veteran England midfielder Jill Scott and forward Toni Duggan will also try to gain an edge offensively. But by all accounts the first matchup is primed to be an even one.
Following the first match, USWNT will welcome Japan to the pitch. USWNT team will have their hands full up against a roster eager to prove themselves. In addition to the hungry roster of Japan, Rumi Utsugi and Saki Kumagai will try to knock USWNT off their game.
Offense is definitely a strong suit for USWNT as always. Alex Morgan enters the SheBelieves Cup with 98 career goals with the national team. Fans will hope to see Morgan net a brace to reach the 100 goal milestone in Chester. Tobin Heath is always a threat up top for USWNT. Heath displays an aggressive offensively style with some serious skills on the ball.
Defensively, Becky Sauerbrunn anchors the back line. Sauerbrunn has 151 caps but remains goalless. As a taller player on the pitch, perhaps fans could catch Sauerbrunn knock home her first career goal. Throughout the midfield, there could be more competition than normal. Julie Ertz highlights that grouping and Philly fans know her very well. Look for Ertz to be a dominating presence all over the pitch tonight.
Any fan of soccer should be excited about the SheBelieves Cup. Philly fans should be rejoicing the fact that this event continues to return to the area. After all, with Philadelphia Union’s MLS home opener set to kickoff Saturday afternoon, what better appetizer is there than one of the world’s best international tournaments to watch? You tell me.
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Mandatory Credit: US Women’s National Team