Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, is starting to feel like home for the U.S. women's national football team.
The Americans were victorious over Colombia Friday night (22 January), 6-0. It was their second game against the 2019 Pan American gold medallists this week. Rose Lavelle, one of the standouts of the 2019 World Cup team, wasted no time, taking two shots on goal in the opening two minutes.
But it was newcomer Catarina Macario who struck first, finding the back of the net at the three-minute mark. It was the first career start and first goal for Macario.
Olympic champion Megan Rapinoe added two more goals at the 34' and 43' marks. Lynn Williams made it 4-0, scoring off a header 60' in. Lindsey Horan added the fifth goal in the 73rd minute, while Margaret Purce scored at 86' to complete the commanding victory.
Rapinoe is playing in just her second game since March 2020, as the superstar chose to sit out the NWSL's Challenge Cup in 2020. Coming into this week's games, Rapinoe said the time away may have helped her.
“From a very selfish and personal standpoint,” said Rapinoe, according to the Los Angeles Times, “there was so much positive that came from this long layoff. I don’t think I’ve been this rested my entire career.
“I actually feel really good physically and just refreshed in a lot of ways, mentally and emotionally. But I’m obviously so excited to start playing again."
Friday’s win makes it two in a row
The USWNT also took on Colombia Monday, winning 4-0. Three of the four goals came from Samantha Mewis, who scored four-minute mark, and then again at 33’ and 46’.
The Americans dominated the stat sheet, with 22 shots, 11 of them on target. The kept possession of the ball for a whopping 64 percent of the game.
Olympic gold medallists and World Cup champs Carli Lloyd (85') and Rapinoe (4') added assists in the game.
Looking for Tokyo gold
The U.S. has won the last two Women’s World Cups, in 2015 and 2019, but they left Rio 2016 empty-handed after a loss to Sweden in the quarter-finals. The U.S. women have won four of the six women’s football gold medals awarded at the Olympic Games.
They will be favourites for gold in Tokyo, as the team has demonstrated with their decisive wins over Colombia this week. Those wins came without Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Cup champion Alex Morgan, who has been recovering from COVID-19. Two other members of the 2015 and 2019 squads were also notably absent: Christen Press, also recovering from COVID-19, and two-time Olympic champ Tobin Heath, who chose to continue her play for Manchester United.