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Lavelle’s late laser drives USWNT past Canada in SheBelieves Cup (video)

SheBelieves Cup

Julie Ertz of the U.S. national team (L) is challenged by Canadian Defender Jessie Fleming during their SheBelieves Cup international soccer tournament game at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida on February 18, 2021. (Photo by Gregg Newton / AFP) (Photo by GREGG NEWTON/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

A game with big missed chances on both sides should serve as a reminder to the USWNT that the big games have a different vibe than friendlies after Rose Lavelle’s terrific late finish gave the Yanks a 1-0 win over Canada in both nations’ SheBelieves Cup opener on Thursday.

The Yanks have won three -- and hosted all five -- of the SheBelieves Cup tournaments and are bidding to become the first team to win back-to-back titles after going 3-0 last season.

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But with the Olympics ahead, Vlatko Andonovski and his team will not need to look further than this match for how close even the World Cup champions can come to losing a meaningful game.

Lavelle’s 14th goal for the USWNT means Andonovski’s perfect start to life as USWNT coach reaches 14 games. The 44-year-old Andonovski came within 11 minutes of his first non-win.

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Canada had several big chances on the counterattack but struggled to finish as the USWNT had some uncharacteristic errors, several of them unforced.

Quinn had an exceptional day as a force In the center of the park for Bev Priestman’s Canadians, who were without the game’s all-time top scorer in Christine Sinclair.

The U.S. came close a number of times, with Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan coming close just after the hour mark. Lindsey Horan was very good and came close to a goal moments before she assisted Lavelle’s winner.

Manchester City star Lavelle ran onto a loose ball at the back post and his a sizzling seeing-eye shot that beat Stephanie Labbe inside the near post.

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The Yanks had a 21-7 shot advantage in the 70th minute, with nine efforts going on target, but neither Kailen Sheridan nor substitute Labbe allowed a ball to beat them.

The slim win came a couple of hours after the USWNT’s next opponent, Brazil, took care of Argentina 4-1 with four different scorers, beginning with Marta’s penalty at the half-hour mark.

Brazil put six of eight shots on target, doubling up Argentina on both counts. Mariana Larroquette scored for the losing side, while Debora, Adriana, and Geyse joined Marta on the list of scorers for the winners.

SheBelieves Cup scoreboard

Brazil 4-1 Argentina
USWNT 1-0 Canada

USWNT v Brazil -- 3pm ET
Argentina v Canada -- 6pm ET

Canada v Brazil -- 4pm ET
USWNT v Argentina. -- 7pm ET

Follow @NicholasMendola