SheBelieves Cup Preview

The USWNT takes on Canada tonight in the SheBelieves Cup

The 2021 SheBelieves Cup is set to kick off today in Orlando. The tournament consists of four teams (The USA, Brazil, Canada, and Argentina) and will be played using a points system format. Each team will play the other once and the team with the most points takes home the trophy, with goal difference serving as the tiebreaker. The USA is set to defend their 2020 SheBelieves Cup title when they take on Brazil, Thursday. While Alex Morgan, Meagan Rapinoe, and the rest of the USWNT are used to cup dominance, there are some new faces who will try and put their own stamp on this year’s competition.

The USWNT has two wins already in 2021 and sits atop the FIFA Rankings. But it has been an array of new talent that has shined for both club and country as the U.S. gears up for the SheBelieves Cup. Here are a few names of Americans playing abroad and younger players that may soon become very recognizable after this year’s tournament:

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Jaelin Howell: At 21, Howell has about as much experience as you can ask for from a player of her age. Replacing injured Samantha Mewis, Howell will be making her second cap for the USWNT. Howell is not even a full professional, still playing for Florida state where she’s scored 10 times in 60 appearances from midfield. Howell has appearances for the USWNT under 25s and under 17s so she has experience at the international level. However, this will be her first test at the highest level. It will be a much taller order for Howell to replace Mewis’ output. Mewis scored all four goals in a 4-0 USWNT win over Columbia earlier this year and is a huge boost to the midfield. Howell will have to have an immediate impact but has the potential to burst onto the scene when given the opportunity, and will be one to watch in future games and tournaments.

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Catarina Macario: Also 21 years of age, Macario was originally born in Brazil, one of the teams the U.S. is competing against in the SheBelieves Cup. However, Marcario switched her international allegiance and has been a young star for Lyon in France. Lyon is one of the most dominant club sides in the women’s game, so Marcario is in the right place to develop into a star. For her country, Macario has appeared at youth level for The U.S. despite also being eligible to represent Brazil. In 2021 Macario made her first two appearances at senior level for the USWNT, scoring once in a 6-0 win over Columbia. Macario is already on track to become a bonafide star, and with significant minutes in the SheBelieves Cup, she should announce herself to U.S. fans.

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Abby Dahlkemper: Dahlkemper is a lot more experienced than the first two names in this squad, but she has had quite an impact on both club and country. Dahlkemper (along with Macario) is one of the few players in this year’s side that play outside of the NWSL in the U.S. The center-back recently moved to English side Manchester City in 2021 and has already made two appearances. For the U.S. Dahlkemper got her first cap in 2016 and has been a mainstay in defense. Dahlkemper represents an opportunity many USWNT players take in going abroad whether it is in the NWSL offseason or  While Dahlkemper is trying to adjust to a new role with a new squad in Manchester, look for her to fill an important gap in the U.S. defense as they try to defend against some other strong attacking sides in the SheBelieves cup.

Sophia Smith: Sophia Smith is one of the leaders of the future for the national team. At 20 years old, Smith already has a cap for the U.S. no easy feat playing in a team consistently at the top of the FIFA World Rankings. Unlike Dahlkemper and Macario, Smith has chosen to start her young career in the U.S. After spending just one season at Stanford University where she scored 24 goals in 33 games. Smith was selected by the Portland Thorns with the number one overall pick in the 2020 NWSL Draft and already has a goal in just four appearances for the Thrones. Smith has also scored 21 goals in just 25 appearances for the U.S. under-23 side and her goalscoring volume should be on full display as Smith gets her national team career underway in the SheBelieves Cup.

The United States will take on Canada in the SheBelieves Cup group stage tonight at 6pm Central Time. Show your support by getting some USA gear today!


About the author: Mike Boyd



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