RFK STADIUM, WASHINGTON - It's clear the U.S. women's long-time reign as the world's number-one ranked soccer team is being seriously challenged. Number-three France did not just beat the Americans in a friendly tournament hosted by the United States, but did it convincingly.
The French scored twice in the first 10 minutes Tuesday night in Washington in the final game of the SheBelieves Cup, and added a goal in the second half, to blank the U.S. women, 3-0. In the earlier mach at RFK Stadium, Olympic champion and No. 2 Germany edged No. 5 England, 1-0.
The results left the U.S. at the bottom of the table after the four teams all played a challenging schedule of three matches in seven days in the second year of this event. France finished with 7 points, Germany had four, while England and the United States each had three, but England had a better goal differential to finish ahead of the Americans.
"We're extremely disappointed, obviously," said U.S. defender Julie Johnston. "But we're here to grow and learn. You know, we want to have as many tools as we can in order to grow and test ourselves and these are the teams you want to test yourselves with."
"There's little doubt this was one of the worst defeats in U.S. Women's Soccer history, and it comes on top of the Americans' 1-0 loss to England three days earlier in their second match of the tournament.
"We know they'll come back from this, but it's certainly disappointing," U.S. soccer fan Emily Rabinek told VOA. "I think they are just coming back from the hard loss from the Olympics last year, but I think they are going to see a turnaround. I am still feeling positive even after a hard loss tonight."
It comes as no surprise that some fans are already saying U.S. head coach Jill Ellis should lose her job.
As for the winning French side, it did not take them long to get the advantage against the U.S.Eugenie Le Sommer was taken down in the box in the 8th minute and a penalty kick was awarded. Camille Abily converted to give the French a 1-0 lead.
If that weren't enough of a shock to the partisan crowd, less than two minutes later Le Sommer scored to make it 2-0. Abily added a second-half goal to make the final 3-0, giving France the title.
"We are really happy because we know it's really hard to beat the U.S. in the USA." said Abily. "So it's a great game we played. But we just want to keep going and it was really important for us to win this tournament."
"I think for the players it was a very good match, a very good match, in general," French coach Olivier Echouafni told VOA. "And getting the two goals during the first 10 minutes I think was a great thing for the beginning of the match."
In the earlier game, the lone goal for Germany came from Anja Mittag in the 44th minute.
“We knew this was going to be a tough tournament," said German coach Steffi Jones. "There were three great teams that we were playing against. After the first game where we lost against the U.S. team (1-0) and then being so unlucky against France (0-0 draw) was for me, as a head coach, I was wishing for a win tonight. So I am glad that the team finished it finally with a win.”
England coach Mark Sampson said, "I definitely thought we deserved something out of the game, but the margin was just so, so small, and today it didn't go in our favor. It's just unfortunate that we didn't put the ball in the back of the net when we got some good opportunities to score.But we played three games in so short a time against such quality opponents and were in them all for every single second. There was such a small margin between winning and losing."