Mercedes Benz Stadium continues to host record-setting crowds for soccer matches. On Saturday, 50,644 fans passed through the gates at the Benz to set a new record for the largest crowd ever to watch the US Women’s National Team (USWNT) in their new hometown. It picked a great time too as US Soccer breaks ground on its new Fayette County home 30 minutes south of the stadium.

Fans were rewarded with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory thanks to the youth movement on the USWNT. Nineteen-year-old Jaedyn Shaw evened the game at 1-1 with a laser from the top of the box. The goal came 20 minutes after a right foot from Japan’s Kiko Seike found the back of the net.

Shaw has had a dramatic impact on the team this season with 6 goals in 10 appearances. She is one of 14 members on the roster under the age of 27. Nine of those have less than 20 appearances with the team.

According to Shaw, Seike’s goal was a wake-up call. “If anything it was motivation just to continue to go with our game plan.”

The US women applied pressure throughout the match with 18 shots, seven on goal. Forward Mallory Swanson’s left-footed cross in the 15th minute was blocked by Miyabi Moriya inches away from tying the game. There were five near misses on goal before Shaw’s broke through.

Midfielder Sam Coffey made an excellent play to beat Yui Hasegawa (14) to the ball. Coffey delivered the ball to Shaw in space. Shaw took one-and-a-half dribbles and slotted the ball to the back of the net.

Head Coach Twila Kilgore’s game plan from the outset was to dictate the game. “Part of our DNA is to be on the front foot and make sure we are dictating play and influencing how other teams play and making it difficult to play against us,” said Kilgore.

It was more of the same in the second half as the US fired 8 shots on goal through the first 31 minutes. In the 69th minute, Lindsey Horan fired a shot from the right side of the box that just missed the left post. The two-time Olympian would not have to wait long for another opportunity. Japan midfield Hina Sugita took down Sophia Smith on a great run into the box and potential 1-on-1 with
Ayaka Yamashita in goal.

Horan slotted the penalty kick into the left corner way ahead of the diving Yamashita to give the US the lead. Japan fired two shots on goal over the final minutes in regulation and one during the four minutes of stoppage time.

The experience was one for the books for the forward from Frisco, TX. “I was just so happy to play in front of such a big crowd,” said Shaw. “I think this is the biggest crowd I have ever played in front of.”

Looking Ahead

Columbus, Ohio will host the title game on Tuesday. The US will await the winner of Brazil-Canada. Should the USWNT face Canada it will be the second matchup between the two teams in 35 days. It was the USA prevailing in the 2024 Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup semifinal 3-1 on penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw in regulation.


All photos Jason McDonald, JM Photography for CORE360 Sports

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