USWNT’s Jaedyn Shaw makes history before record friendly crowd

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By jeenmediaa

Jaedyn Shaw, 19, became the first United States women’s national team player to score a goal in each of her first five starts with a goal on Saturday, and the U.S. defeated Japan, 2-1 to advance to Tuesday’s final of the SheBelieves Cup.

Shaw started as the No. 10 on Saturday and was a focal point of the Americans’ attack. She scored 21 minutes into the match, striking a shot from outside the 18-yard box that froze Japan goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita.

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“I just want to point out, not only did she score a brilliant goal, and not only was she part of a lot of very effective build-ups, but she did a great job defensively,” U.S. interim coach Twila Kilgore said about Shaw in a postgame news conference. “And this is an area where she has accepted a challenge and is continuing to grow and makes a massive difference for our team.”

Not only is Shaw the first USWNT player in program history to score in her first five starts, she is only the 13th in U.S. history to score in five straight games, and the youngest to do so.

A crowd of 50,644 fans turned up at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, a record for a friendly match for the U.S. women and the largest crowd for the team in any home match since the 1999 World Cup final.

Forward Mallory Swanson made her return to the field for the U.S. 354 days after tearing her left patella tendon, an injury that forced her to miss the 2023 World Cup. Swanson was active on the left wing throughout her 78 minutes of play. She was denied a goal early in the game by Miyabi Moriya‘s goal-line clearance.

“In front of goal, for me personally, I was a little excited,” Swanson told TNT postgame. “[I have to] get those jitters out of the way and move onto the next.”

Catarina Macario also stepped onto the field for the U.S. for the first time in 725 days on Saturday. She entered the game in the 78th minute, her first international minutes since tearing her ACL in spring 2022.

Japan opened the scoring 30 seconds into the match when Kiko Seike ran behind the United States’ high defensive line and slotted her shot inside of the far post. It was the first time the U.S. had conceded a goal in the opening minute since 2003.

Shaw then answered 20 minutes later with a stinging right-footed shot from a central area atop the box, continuing her run of form after being named the Concacaf W Gold Cup’s best player last month.

“She inverts as a seven or 11, and now we have her playing as a 10,” Kilgore said. “This is something that’s really important as we look at developing a roster for the Olympics and thinking about versatility and things like that.

“The reintroduction of Mal also created a scenario where I felt like it was the right time against this particular opponent to put Jaedyn right there in the middle of what we call seam two and allow her to do her thing, and I think she did an exceptional job.”

Captain Lindsey Horan scored a penalty kick in the 78th minute to win the match for the U.S. after Sophia Smith earned a foul in the box.

The U.S. endured a scare early in the match when center-back Naomi Girma had to exit with an injury in the 18th minute. Girma played every minute for the U.S. at last year’s World Cup and is the anchor of the Americans’ back line.

“She’s just getting evaluated for a right thigh injury, and we’ll learn more shortly,” Kilgore said.

The U.S. will play Canada, which beat Brazil on penalties in Saturday’s other game, in Tuesday’s SheBelieves Cup final in Columbus, Ohio.

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