top of page
  • Writer's pictureSoccer Down Here

Belief carries the USWNT through on a record setting day in Atlanta

by Madison Crews

The USWNT beat Japan 2-1 in the semifinal of the SheBelieves Cup presented by Visa in the opening match in front of a record breaking crowd. 

50,644 fans were in attendance for the match which made it the largest crowd to watch the USWNT in a friendly on domestic soil. The crowd was electric all throughout the match as the USWNT secured a win in their future home. 

At the start of the match, things didn’t look great for the USWNT. Japan would answer first as Kiko Seike ran up the right side with a shot that deflected on the post into the goal 32 seconds into the match to make it 0-1. Seike’s goal was the first goal that the US conceded in the first minute of the match since a friendly against Italy in October 2003.  

“I don’t know if we have ever been scored on that early to be honest," Alex Morgan said after the match. "I don’t remember in my career, but I think it was so early that we were like, 'Okay there is no reason to panic or stress. We need to just play our game,' I felt like we did that. We did really well defensively. We picked off a lot of balls from their back line, and from passes they made through our pressure. We made a lot of opportunities on goal and we could have put a lot more away, but I’m just glad that we got the win.”

Mallory Swanson started in this match after being away since April 8, 2023 when she suffered a major knee injury, but it was like she never left. Swanson was weaving through Japan’s defense and creating chances for the US. 

“Japan is a good side, and every time we play them it's always challenging because they are so good at the off the ball movement,” said Mallory Swanson when asked about how she was able to exploit Japan’s defense. “They [Japan] are very technical, but it goes back to just executing the game plan that we put in place for the week.”

The US found an equalizer at the 21st minute when Sam Coffey won the ball back from Japan to pass it to Jaedyn Shaw who fired a shot outside the 18 yard box to find the back of the net. This was her 7th goal for the USWNT, and she made history by being the only player in USWNT history to score in her first 5 career starts. 

After several attempts to find the back of the net, one finally came in the 77th minute when Sophia Smith was fouled in the box and earned the penalty kick. Lindsey Horan buried it into the net to make it 2-1. 

The USWNT will face Canada in the final on April 9th at Field in Columbus at 7 p.m. Japan and Brazil will fight for third place at 4 p.m. prior to the final. 

Twila Kilgore spoke highly about the resilience of this group of players and how they didn’t give up even when they were down a goal seconds into the match, but also gave credit to the record breaking crowd at Mercedes-Benz stadium. 

“It felt like home to all of us. That is one thing I want to make sure the crowd hears,” said Twila Kilgore in her press conference after the match. “It felt like home to all of us and even the home reaction to the Japan goal helped us. Every step of the way that crowd was incredible and my neck was hurting looking to see how far it went up, and how many people were up there which is incredible.”

Emily Sonnett, who is a Marietta, Georgia native, reflected on how huge this crowd was, especially in the future home of U.S. Soccer. 

"It was electric. It was awesome,” said Sonnett. “I think having my hometown break the record for the USWNT is great. I think it's great for the sports community here.”

This was echoed by every player of the USWNT that spoke with the media after the match, but Crystal Dunn’s response really rang true to what the community is like here in Atlanta. 

“There is so much diversity here. It’s really a beautiful thing. I step outside and as I’m walking down the street, I really feel the presence of how diverse this city is,” said Dunn. “I’m not surprised that we got so many fans coming to this game because I really feel like it’s a hub for people to celebrate everyone’s  backgrounds and sports bring people together. I’m really happy we broke the record and the atmosphere was incredible.”


The future's looking bright here in the new home for US Soccer, and the USWNT hopes to carry that forward to the SheBelieves Cup final in Columbus, OH on Tuesday night.

(photos: Sofia Cupertino)

88 views0 comments


bottom of page