A pair of first-half goals by Mallory Swanson gave the United States women a 2-0 opening match win over Canada on Thursday night in the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando, Florida.
Players from both teams wore wristbands in support of gender equality and transgender rights during the match and gathered at the center circle in an embrace prior to kickoff in a show of solidarity for a Canadian team in the midst of a labor dispute with its federation ahead of the World Cup this summer.
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Swanson, formerly Pugh before getting married last December, settled a ball in the center of the area in the 7th minute and fired a volley past Canada’s Kailen Sheridan to put the US in front early and then capitalized on a mistake by the visiting defense to roll the ball into an open net before half-time.
The brace gave Swanson five goals in her first three games for the US in 2023 after scoring three times across two matches against New Zealand in January.
US goalie Alyssa Naeher preserved the lead just before halftime with a lunging save of a Janine Beckie shot from outside the box. Naeher also stopped a header by Jordyn Huitema in the 74th minute.
Her third save came in the 91st minute on a header from Vanessa Gilles.
It was also a historic night for Alex Morgan, who was honored before the match for his 200th appearance for the national team, which occurred late last year against Germany.
The eighth edition of the tournament features a round-robin between four of the top teams in the world, headed by the No. 1 US squad. Canada is sixth. Brazil No. 9 and Japan 11th.
Brazil defeated Japan 1-0 in the first match of the doubleheader. The next games are in Nashville on Sunday, when the US will play Japan while Brazil faces Canada. The Americans will conclude against Brazil on Wednesday at Frisco, Texas.
The first SheBelieves Cup was won by the Americans in 2016. France was the champion in 2017 and England took the title in 2019. The US is a five-time winner, including 2018 and the past three editions.
Under the format, the winner is decided by total points (three for a win, one for a tie) with tiebreakers used if needed.
Information from Reuters was used in this report.