The U.S. women's soccer team fought nasty central Ohio weather to get a “workmanlike” win over Germany in a matchup of the world's top two teams.
Megan Rapinoe scored in the 17th minute and the U.S. held on for a 1-0 victory Wednesday night in a game played in mid-30s temperatures, howling wind and a mix of rain and snow at Mapfre Stadium.
“It was miserable,” Rapinoe said. “The wind was everywhere and it was cold and kind of sideways rain.”
The top-ranked Americans prevailed in an opening-round game of the SheBelieves Cup, a four-team round-robin tournament that also includes England and France. The exhibition is a challenging tune-up for World Cup qualifying this fall.
U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher preserved the shutout when she fell on a shot from Hasret Kayikci in injury time in what was just the second on-target shot of the night by the Germans.
The opportunities were limited for both teams because of the wind.
“The wind was going across the field, side-to-side,” U.S. forward Alex Morgan said. “It wasn't even going from one end to another end. That's where we had difficulty.”
Sara Dabritz got a point-blank shot for Germany inside the box in the game's 16th minute but misfired and pulled it right. Less than a minute later, Morgan headed a long goal kick to Rapinoe, whose subsequent in-stride shot squirted through the legs of goalkeeper Almuth Schult. “Once we got the goal, it was a game of keeping that lead,” Morgan said.
Germany got another good chance in the 20th minute when Dzsenifer Marozsan hit the post. U.S. team captain Carli Lloyd, who is just two goals short of 100, nailed an accurate shot in the 57th minute, but Schult made a terrific leaping save. It was the best chance of the second half for the Americans.
“It was a workmanlike game in challenging conditions,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. “We were doing the best we could with what we had against a good opponent.”
Rapinoe was surprised the 1-0 lead held up.
“I thought there was going to be a lot more in the game,” she said. “I think the weather got a little bit worse throughout the game.”
Earlier in the day at the stadium, No. 3 England routed No. 6 France 4-1 on goals by Toni Duggan, Jill Scott, Jodie Taylor and Fran Taylor.
The tournament continues Sunday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, with the U.S. facing France.
In last year's tournament, the U.S. women's team lost consecutive home games for the first time in 17 years, dropping games to England and France after beating Germany in the opening round.