CHESTER, Pa. (AP) – Lynn Williams scored her second career goal and the U.S. women’s soccer team kicked off its 2017 slate with a 1-0 victory over Germany on Wednesday night in a matchup of the world’s top two teams.
Alyssa Naeher made an early diving save and earned the shutout for the top-ranked Americans in the SheBelieves Cup, a four-team round-robin tournament that also includes England and France.
“At every level, we got tested,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. “But the confidence I think our players had on the ball is a big card to put in our back pocket as we move forward.”
In the 56th minute, Christen Press struck the crossbar following a great individual effort and, after Tobin Heath’s follow was blocked, Williams pounced on the ball in the box to score the contest’s only goal.
The 23-year-old Williams is one of the young players Ellis is looking to build around as the team begins to look ahead to the 2019 World Cup.
“I happened to be there at the right time to put in the goal,” Williams said.
U.S. captain Carli Lloyd, who won the last two FIFA Women’s Player of the Year awards, was held scoreless in a homecoming but created some dangerous chances in her first game in four months. She grew up about 30 minutes from Talen Energy Stadium, home of Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union, and was greeted by huge cheers from the crowd of over 16,000.
“I thought we definitely outplayed them,” Lloyd said. “We definitely could have had three or more four goals.”
The game pitted the reigning champions of the last two marquee tournaments. No. 2 Germany took gold at the 2016 Olympics and the U.S. won the 2015 World Cup.
Earlier in the day at Talen Energy Stadium, No. 3 France rallied to beat No. 5 England 2-1 behind a goal from Wendie Renard on the final touch of the match.
The tournament continues Saturday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, with the U.S. facing England. The Americans conclude SheBelieves Cup play vs. France at Washington’s RFK Stadium on Tuesday, with the winner then determined based on total points through the three games.
“We want to be playing teams like this — this caliber, the best in the world,” Lloyd said. “It’s going to test us. That’s what we need ultimately.”
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