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Mallory Pugh scores as USWNT settles for a 1-1 tie with France at 2018 SheBelieves Cup

Three Spirit players started in the second leg of the SheBelieves Cup

A fast-paced end couldn’t turn a messy first half from the United States into a win, as the USWNT settled for a 1-1 draw against France. Coming off of a 4-1 loss to England, France made eight changes, producing a much better performance. Washington Spirit forward Mallory Pugh opened the scoring, but a few minutes later Eugenie Le Sommer equalized for France to provide the final scoreline.

USWNT coach Jill Ellis didn’t rotate the lineup much from Thursday’s 1-0 win against Germany. Spirit midfielder Andi Sullivan replaced Carli Lloyd, making her first start since last March’s game against France. Julie Ertz apparently picked up a knee injury, and was replaced by Morgan Brian.

Kelley O’Hara and the Spirit’s Taylor Smith made frequent runs upfield from their outside back positions. Smith made a great overlapping run up the right flank in the 6th minute, but French goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi got to her service before Alex Morgan. Megan Rapinoe connected with Morgan in the 17th minute, but an offside flag ended the threat.

France had most of the possession, though neither team was able to produce much in terms of constructive play. Possibly the best of the early chances occurred just past the half hour mark, when Horan crossed the ball to Pugh on the far side of the box. Pugh then played back to Brian, who in turn found Morgan, but the striker sent her shot a foot wide.

France’s Marion Torrent drew a yellow card a few minutes later for a foul on Kelley O’Hara, giving the USWNT a free kick they wouldn’t waste. Rapinoe’s service from the left bounced around in the six-yard box, with Sullivan firing a close-range shot off the post. The rebound found its way through the crowd to Pugh, whose falling shot somehow avoided being blocked. Despite Sarah Bouhaddi’s last-gasp attempt to save, Pugh’s shot had enough on it to get over the line and give the U.S. a 35th minute lead.

France equalized three minutes later. French center back Griedge Mbock Bathy played a long ball to Eugenie Le Sommer, who beat Abby Dahlkemper to it. Le Sommer advanced on goal, rounding Alyssa Naeher before shooting from a low angle to level the scores.

Right before the first half closed, Casey Short came in Washington’s Taylor Smith, who did not appear to have an injury. At halftime, Ellis made further subs, bringing Savannah McCaskill in for Rapinoe and Lynn Williams in for Lindsey Horan.

With a half hour left, Carli Lloyd and Crystal Dunn entered the game to replace Pugh and Sullivan. The U.S. came up with a couple half-chances quickly following those moves, but nothing that seriously threatened Bouhaddi. Short went down with what looked like an ankle injury and was stretchered off the field. Christen Press replaced her, with Dunn moving into a defensive role for the first time in years.

The USWNT started to pressure France more late on, but it was France who forced Naeher into two big late saves. In the 81st minute, Viviane Asseyi played the ball to Valérie Gauvin, who forced a sharp reaction from Naeher from inside the box. A minute later, a scramble in the U.S. box led to a point-blank shot from Amandine Henry that Naeher stopped as well.

A fast-paced final minutes from both teams didn’t change the scoreline, and the game closed 1-1. This Wednesday the USWNT face Englandat 7pm in Orlando in the final SheBelieves match. The U.S. can win the tournament with a victory, while a draw could also be enough pending other results.

Highlights will be added when they are available.