The U.S. women's national team has started off 2017 with a win over Germany on Wednesday and the future looks pretty bright -- at least for now. Yes, the performance wasn't a spectacular one and there are some things to work on, but there were some players who stepped up and stood out.
Here is who made the most of the USWNT's opening match of the SheBelieves Cup:
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It wasn't a perfect outing for Press. At times she had trouble getting in behind space to get the ball through the dynamic runs that the USWNT often counts on. But there were moments were she got the ball, face-up to goal, and was able to slice her way through Germany's back line to create her own space.
The only goal of the match will be credited to Lynn Williams, but there is no doubt that it was all Press. If only her shot was an inch or two lower, she would've nabbed it for herself.
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The goalkeeper position is wide open for the USWNT right now, and Naeher did exactly what she needed to do on Wednesday. She didn't face a ton of action in Wednesday's match, but came up with the saves she needed to – including one rather nice one – and she stayed present despite the match's lulls. There was some rust across the USWNT squad, but Naeher's distribution was mostly fine and she showed she could be a starter.
Right now, with Hope Solo looking like she is on the outs, it's between Naeher and Ashlyn Harris to become the USWNT's new No. 1. Coming into Wednesday, it looked like Naeher might have the edge and her performance only solidified it.
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While coach Jill Ellis' three-back experiment has turned heads, and placing Long in the centerback position has turned even more heads, everything went fine on Wednesday. A big part of the three-back's success was due to Long, who was a steady presence in the back and did well in connecting her passes up the field.
The experiment needs more testing, particularly because a lackluster Germany side didn't put it under much pressure, Wednesday was still a good sign from Long. If the USWNT wants to play out of the back via the three-woman back line, Long showed she can make it work.
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There are more chances for USWNT players to step up. The next one comes on Saturday, March 4, when the USWNT faces England (5 p.m. ET on FOX).
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