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By Mason Cavalier
Boyds, Md. (Feb. 27, 2019) – Washington Spirit midfielders Andi Sullivan and Rose Lavelle, and forward Mallory Pugh will open the 2019 SheBelieves Cup tonight as the U.S. Women’s National Team hosts Japan at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa. (7 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1)
With just eight games remaining for the U.S. until the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, all three Spirit players will be aiming to secure their spots on Ellis’ World Cup roster with strong performances during the SheBelieves Cup.
Sullivan earned another call-up for the SheBelieves Cup after she finished 2018 by helping the USA earn the 500th win in federation history, a 1-0 victory over Portugal. She played a starting role in the historic win, helping the U.S. hold Portugal off the scoreboard as she earned her 11th career cap.
Lavelle had several signature performances for the U.S. in 2018, highlighted by her game-clinching goal against Canada in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship last fall. Her high level of production throughout the event earned her a nomination for the CONCACAF Female Player of the Year award.
Pugh is the most internationally capped Spirit player with 45 games under her belt for the senior U.S. squad. The 20-year-old forward has a history of scoring against Japan. She doubled the USA’s lead in the final game of the 2017 Tournament of Nations against Japan after a through-ball from Spirit defender Taylor Smith put her 1-on-1 with the Japan goalkeeper, finishing the chance at the near post.
Historically, the U.S. has performed well against Japan, with their record sitting at 28-1-7 with a goal difference of 87. Japan and the U.S. have met in three separate finals, the 2011 Women’s World Cup, the 2012 Olympic goal medal game, and the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final.
This year’s SheBelieves Cup competition will share the same format as the first three years. Each team will play each other once, three games total, and the winner will be decided based on total points, with the first tie-breaker being goal difference.
U.S. WNT ROSTER BY POSITION: 2019 SHEBELIEVES CUP (CAPS/GOALS)
GOALKEEPERS (3): 21- Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC; 0/0), 24- Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride; 19/0), 1- Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 40/0)
DEFENDERS (8): 7- Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 32/0), 12- Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 14/1); 19- Crystal Dunn (NC Courage; 77/24), 22- Emily Fox(UNC; 3/0), 5- Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC; 112/2); 4- Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC; 151/0), 14- Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 27/0), 2- Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC; 28/0)
MIDFIELDERS (5): 8- Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 74/18); 16- Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit; 21/6), 3- Samantha Mewis (NC Courage; 43/8), 6- Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 11/0), 25- McCall Zerboni (NC Courage; 8/0)
FORWARDS (7): 17- Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 143/25); 10- Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 266/105), 20- Jessica McDonald (NC Courage; 5/1), 13- Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 155/98), 23- Christen Press (Utah Royals FC; 108/47), 11- Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit; 45/13), 15- Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 146/41)