Washington, D.C. — With France up 2-0 in the 24th minute versus the United States in the SheBelieves Cup at RFK Stadium, French midfielder Amandine Henry made a strong defensive play that helped keep the Americans off the board.
U.S. midfielder Tobin Heath, Henry’s teammate on Portland Thorns FC, took a free kick from about 35 yards out that floated just over French goalkeeper Meline Gerard and bounced towards an empty net.
Henry followed the play and calmly tracked back, clearing the ball off the line with her right foot, just in time.
“I know that on this kind of shot, it’s often really hard for the goalkeeper to go out and I would like to protect the goal,” Henry said through a translator after the game. “It was the good thing to do.”
The United States never did end up finding the back of the net and France went on to win the match 3-0. The win gave France their first SheBelieves Cup title.
Les Bleus hope it’s just the start of a winning 2017 as the UEFA European Women’s Championship in the Netherlands kicks off in July. Though France has high hopes and is one of the favorites, they’ve never made it past the quarterfinals of the tournament.
“We have a lot of work for the Euros during the [upcoming] four months,” Henry said in English. “We know we have something positive, but we have to work a lot for the Euros.”
France finished the SheBelieves Cup 2-0-1. In addition to the win over the U.S., they tied Germany after opening the tournament with a come from behind win over England. Each game was part of a doubleheader with the United States, which meant large crowds in every stadium. The attendance at RFK for their win was 21,638.
“It was amazing for us,” Henry said of the crowds. “We would like in France [to have] the same.”
Before Euro 2017 starts this summer, Henry will be back in Portland for another NWSL season. Henry, who won the Silver Ball at the 2015 Women’s World Cup, joined the Thorns mid-season last year and said her time in the NWSL has helped her game.
“It was like a dream for me to play in the American league and see [United States players] work daily,” she said. “It helped [me] to have some more confidence.”