March 3, 2019 / 2:49 AM / 3 months ago

Soccer: Scrappy U.S. 'need to learn quickly' after held 2-2 by England

(Reuters) - The United States walked away from a 2-2 draw against England on Saturday at the SheBelieves Cup in Nashville knowing they have plenty to sort out before they set off on their World Cup title defense in June.

Mar 2, 2019; Nashville, TN, USA; United States midfielder Julie Ertz (8) plays the ball on a corner kick in the first half against England during a She Believes Cup women's soccer match at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

After opening the four-team tournament with a 2-2 draw against Japan on Wednesday, top-ranked United States again looked far from their best until the closing 15 minutes when they pushed for a winning goal that never came.

“Too many technical errors, too many tactical lapses and we are getting exposed for it,” said U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe.

“And onto the World Cup it’s only going to get worse. We need to learn from these things quickly.”

The United States opened the scoring in the 33rd minute after a poor clearing attempt from England fell right to Rapinoe at the top of the area and she wasted no time to smash a half volley inside the near post.

England drew level in the 36th minute when defender Steph Houghton curled a free kick that was just inside the far post and out of the reach of Adrianna Franch, who was making her first career start for the national team.

The visitors went ahead 2-1 in the 53rd minute when Fran Kirby cleverly flicked the ball to Nikita Parris who then snuck inside the back line before sliding it past Franch.

The United States responded in the 67th minute when Tobin Heath fired the ball home after a goal-mouth scramble, with a trio of defenders having turned away shots from in close.

The United States, who won this tournament last year, now have just one win in four matches to start 2019.

And despite having conceded multiple goals in back-to-back matches for the first time since 2012, Rapinoe said the team’s confidence had not been rattled.

“I don’t think so,” she said.

“You just have to keep pushing. We were really close a few times at the end of the game. But it’s not going to show up. You have to make it happen.”

England, who opened their tournament with a 2-1 win over Brazil on Wednesday, will face Japan on Tuesday in Tampa, Florida, followed by the United States match with Brazil.

Japan beat Brazil 3-1 in the day’s earlier game.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ian Ransom

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