Rapinoe, Lloyd, Macario, Purce: USWNT can count on fierce blend of youth and experience

The USA women's soccer team hit Colombia for six, winning their last three games by a combined score of 12-0

By Ken Browne
Picture by USA TODAY Sports

It's all coming together for the United States Women's National football team ahead of Tokyo 2020.

The four-time Olympic champions hammered Colombia over two games by 10-0 in their latest training camp, and they did it without Alex Morgan.

So what did we learn from this Florida camp?

That with the Olympics a few short months away, the U.S. is looking ferocious and have a deep roster popping with hungry young stars and experienced vets.

On Saturday (23 January) Catarina Macario opened her international account in a 6-0 mauling of Lima 2019 Pan-Am champs Colombia.

The Brazilian born star scored three minutes into her second cap with a lovely finish into the top corner, opening the scoring and setting the USA on the path to another spectacular performance.

The girl who used to play with the boys in Brazil is living her American dream.

After receiving FIFA approval to play on 13 January - three months after becoming a U.S. citizen - 21-year-old Macario looks ready to fulfil the many oracles as 'the future of American football'.

But Macario wasn't the only one in the headlines, Megan Rapinoe (35) bagged a brace and goals from Lynn Williams (27), Lyndsey Horan (26), and Midge Purce (25), who also scored her first international goal, completed the rout.

This 6-0 thrashing followed a 4-0 victory over Colombia four days ago with the Mewis sisters starring, and the team has now gone 50 matches unbeaten at home, winning 31, drawing 3 and losing 0 of their last 34.

Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd at the top of their game

Between them Lloyd and Rapinoe have 3 Olympic gold medals, four World Cups, and 73 years.

But neither shows any signs of slowing down.

Despite the duo being left out of the squad that travelled to Europe for that World Cup final rematch with the Netherlands, USA winning 2-0, both proved that they're hungry as ever to play and make the squad for the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

Lloyd played 90 minutes against Colombia on Tuesday (19 January) and Rapinoe started both games, scoring twice yesterday, proving that both still have important roles to play.

'Pinoe' scored the second goal of the game yesterday by engineering space in a crowded area and getting her shot off from the corner of the box, her overall play linking up and creating opportunities for teammates.

Later when Sam Mewis drew a foul in the box the ball went straight to Rapinoe to take the penalty.

Coach Vlatko Andonovski stressed before the camp in Europe and the game against the Netherlands that both Lloyd and Rapinoe were still very much part of the setup.

"Going back to Carli and Pinoe — I'm excited about where they're at," Andonovski said at the time.

"After talking to both of them — I had a conversation with Carli, and I had a great conversation with Pinoe, as well — I don't think that either one of them... have moved on."

Both the coach and the players proved that to be true over two games against Colombia that the team won 10-0 combined.

USWNT: Options

But it wasn't just the goals that were impressive in this latest U.S. camp in Florida, the team is bossing games in the midfield and making it impossible for other teams to generate chances with a watertight defence.

They haven't allowed a single shot on goal in 270 minutes, goalie Jane Campbell largely a spectator last night.

And there were solid numbers all the way down the stats sheet as the U.S. dominated las cafeteras with 67% possession, 80% passing accuracy, 33 shots with 12 on target and five different scorers.

It might sound like coach has found the perfect formula and a fixed 11 but the team started with a completely different defence in both Colombia matches.

Game 1 saw Dunn, Sauerbrunn, Dahlkemper and O'Hara start across the back four with Naeher in goal, and in Game 2 Sonnett, Davidson, Cook and Krieger started in front of Campbell in goal.

In fact only Sam Mewis, Julie Ertz, Lynn Williams and Megan Rapinoe started both games against Colombia.

Different names, same result for coach Andonovski who has a deep squad packed with young risers and established stars.

Alex Morgan recovers from Coronavirus

And there was even more positive news from the Florida camp as Alex Morgan, who's just returned to the States after a short spell with Tottenham Hotspur in England, is back training after she caught Covid-19.

"We’re very happy to hear that Alex is doing great and everything in terms of COVID is behind her," Andonovski said Thursday.

"She’s been training well. She passed all the medical tests and screenings that she’s supposed to in order to get back on the field and start training."

Morgan overcame initial injuries in north London to score two goals in four Women's Super League appearances for Spurs, and now returns to the Orlando Pride and the NWSL with preseason about to get underway.

The London 2012 Olympic champ and two-time World Cup winner looks likely to be back in a U.S. shirt soon too as indications are that she will be called up for the SheBelieves Cup in February.

SheBelieves Cup 2021

Brazil, Japan and Canada will travel to Florida to join the U.S. team at the SheBelieves Cup 2021 from 18–24 February.

The mini-tournament will provide another challenge in a competition setting and a round-robin format guaranteeing three matches will give coach a chance to see his players in action.

The near-impossible task of selecting a roster of just 18 players for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games draws nearer, and the USA keeps reminding everyone why they are the favourites to regain the Olympic title in Japan.

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