The final match of the 2021 SheBelieves Cup, presented by Visa, pits the United States against Argentina on Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. ET at Orlando’s Exploria Stadium. The match will be broadcast live on FS1 and TUDN and is the sixth and final match of the annual four-team tournament.
Here are Five Things to Know about La Albiceleste:
ARGENTINA MAKING SHEBELIEVES CUP DEBUT
Making its first appearance in the SheBelieves Cup, Argentina’s roster for the tournament features 11 players based in Argentina, five who play in Spain, one in Brazil, one in Colombia one in China and one at an American University in Sophia Braun from Gonzaga. She is from Beaverton, Oregon and played youth club for FC Portland on the ECNL and the Portland Thorns in the Development Academy.
Argentina Women’s National Team Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Solana Pereyra (U.D. Tacuense, ESP), 12- Laurina Oliveros (Boca Juniors)
DEFENDERS (8): 2-Agustina Barroso (Palmeiras (BRA), 3-Eliana Stabile (Boca Juniors), 4-Marina Delgado (UAI Urquiza), 6-Aldana Cometti (Levante U.D., ESP), 13-Sophia Braun (Gonzaga University, USA), 18-Romina Nuñez (UAI Urquiza), 21-Adriana Sachs (Boca Juniors), 22-Natalie Juncos (Racing)
MIDFIELDERS (7): 5-Vanesa Santana (Sporting Huelva, ESP), 8-Clarisa Huber (Boca Juniors), 10-Dalila Ippolito (Juventus, ITA), 14- Miriam Mayorga (Boca Juniors), 16-Lorena Benitez (Boca Juniors), 17-Valentina Camara (C.D. Femarguín, ESP), 20-Daiana Falfan (UAI Urquiza)
FORWARDS (6):7-Yael Oviedo (Independiente Santa Fe, COL), 9-Sole Jaimes (Changchun Dazhong, CHN), 11-Yamila Rodriguez (Boca Juniors), 15-Milagros Menendez (Granada F.C., ESP), 19-Mariana Larroquette (Kansas City NWSL, USA)
Argentina was a late replacement for Japan in the 2021 SheBelieves Cup field and opened the tournament with a clash against its biggest rival, Brazil. Argentina played a quality first half against Brazil on Feb. 18, holding the perennial South American champions to just a first half penalty kick goal from Marta, but then allowed three in the second half while also getting a fantastic header goal of their own in the 60th minute from Mariana Larroquette, who plays for the Kansas City NWSL. Forward Yamila Rodriguez sent a driven cross from the left wing to the far post. It bounced once before Larroquette headed the skidding ball back across the goal, off the left post and into the net from a tight angle. Brazil would score again in the 84th minute, winning by a final score line of 4-1.
Argentina then pushed Canada to the brink on Feb. 21 while playing some inspired defense for the entire game and headed into stoppage time tied 0-0 before giving up a goal in the 92nd minute on a scrappy finish by Canadian second-half substitute Sarah Stratagakis. Argentina goalkeeper Laurina Oliveros made four saves on the night while Argentina tallied a total of seven shots, putting three on target. Midfielder Lorena Benitez suffered what looked to be a serious knee injury during the match and had to leave the game.
INSIDE THE SERIES
The SheBelieves Cup finale will be just the fourth meeting all-time between the USA and Argentina, with the USA winning all three previous matchups. The first meeting in 1998 in Fullerton, Calif. marked the first cap for current USWNT General Manager Kate Markgraf, who would go on to earn 201 total caps. Amazingly, it was just second-ever match for the USA in the state of California. The USA has gone on to play 47 total matches in California. The teams played just days later on April 26 in San Jose with the USA scoring 15 goals over the two games and allowing one. The most recent meeting between the USA and Argentina came at the end of 2014 when the USA traveled to Brazil for a tournament in December. The USA won 7-0 as Christen Press scored four goals, one of just nine four-game goals in U.S. history. It was also the international debut and first career shutout for Alyssa Naeher.
Argentina is currently ranked 31st in the world and third in South America behind Brazil and Colombia. While historically the USA has rarely faced South American teams other than Brazil – who the USA has now played 38 times – the Feb. 24 matchup against Argentina will be the fourth game the USWNT’s fourth game in 2021 against a CONMEBOL opponent. The USA played Colombia on Jan. 18 and Jan. 22, before facing Brazil on Feb. 21 on the second matchday of the SheBelieves Cup. Argentina finished third at the Copa América in Chile in 2018 and qualified for the 2019 Pan American Games, as well as securing a spot in the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL FIFA Women’s World Cup playoff against Panama. Argentina won the first leg 4-0 and after a 1-1 draw in the second leg qualified for its third World Cup. At the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, despite being drawn into a difficult Group D, La Albiceleste distinguished themselves in front of the world with a 0-0 tie against 2015 Women’s World Cup finalists Japan, a 1-0 loss to eventual fourth-place finishers England and a wild 3-3 draw with Scotland.
VISA SHEBELIEVES CUP MVP SPOTLIGHT: MARIANA LARROQUETTE
The lone player on Argentina’s roster currently with an NWSL club, Mariana Larroquette is by far the highest scorer on the roster with 15 goals in 52 caps. The next highest scorer is Sole Jaimes, who has six goals in 37 caps and plays her club ball in China.
A 28-year-old forward from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Larroquette has represented her home country at the 2008 and 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cups and was also a member of Argentina’s National Team at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Larroquette signed a two-year deal with Kansas City ahead of the 2021 NWSL season, having played most recently for Lyn in Norway.
Fans will have the opportunity to vote for the 2021 Visa SheBelieves Cup MVP award recipient, using an online ballot to select among a list of finalists chosen by the committee. The fan-vote will be incorporated into the overall determination of the Visa SheBelieves Cup MVP, which is being awarded for the second consecutive year.