The U.S women’s national team became the first back-to-back SheBelieves Cup champions in the tournament’s six-year history on Wednesday, easily defeating Argentina 6-0 to clinch the trophy.
The win finished off a perfect tournament for the USWNT, which had previously defeated Canada and Brazil.
The USWNT had to fight hard against the Canadians and Brazilians, but Wednesday night’s victory was a cakewalk, with core stars as well as players on the Olympic roster bubble all playing their part.
Rapinoe is far from finished
Megan Rapinoe hadn’t seen the field in nearly a year when she came into USWNT camp last month. After she opted out of the NWSL season and one U.S. camp, many questioned if she could regain the game-changing form she’d often displayed in the past.
Five games and five goals later, it’s clear that the veteran hasn’t lost her ability to decide a match.
Rapinoe was everywhere against Argentina, scoring the game’s first two goals and playing a major role with a cheeky flick on the third for Carli Lloyd. The 35-year-old is not going to fly up and down the field anymore but, in the final third, she still has the composure and cutting edge to make the difference.
Olympic roster selection will be a major challenge
It’s no secret that head coach Vlatko Andonovski is going to have some agonizing decisions to make when forming his 18-player Olympic roster. That struggle could not have been more perfectly demonstrated on Wednesday.
Several players on the roster bubble for Tokyo were given a chance to shine against Argentina and, with the obvious caveat of the quality of the opposition, most of them took their chance.
Kristie Mewis assisted Lloyd’s goal with a pinpoint first-time cross before scoring herself with a great left-footed strike. Casey Krueger put in a strong two-way shift in her half on the field while Tierna Davidson was composed and showed her passing range in central defense. Sophia Smith came off the bench and grabbed an assist on Alex Morgan’s goal.
Andonovski had plenty of praise for Mewis, saying: “It took her a little bit of time but once she figured it out, I thought she was very good. She scored a great goal, she assisted on a very nice goal and she was able to impact the game in different ways.”
The head coach was also happy with what he saw from Krueger (“on the defensive side, she was spot-on in every action that she performed”) as well as Davidson (“very calm dictating the pace together with Becky [Sauerbrunn], spraying balls left and right, I thought she did good.”)
The one bubble player who didn’t have a chance to show what she could do was goalkeeper Jane Campbell. Argentina did not have a shot on target all night.
Morgan’s meaningful goal
Morgan has scored plenty of goals for the USWNT and almost all of them were more important than Wednesday’s, which made it 5-0 in the 84th minute. But very few would have meant as much to Morgan personally.
The striker’s late goal was her first since the 2019 World Cup semifinal and her first since becoming a mother last May. Morgan is now hoping that she can serve as an example to other pro athletes who are already mothers or considering becoming a mom.
Alex Morgan became a mother on May 7, 2020. 293 days later she is back scoring goals for the United States. Inspirational to witness 🇺🇸💪pic.twitter.com/PA85cb0R5E
— roger bennett (@rogbennett) February 25, 2021
“To say it’s been a long time is an understatement. It’s been over 500 days — you don’t have to sugarcoat it,” Morgan said with a laugh.
“I’m very excited to get my first goal back with the national team and join the list of moms on the team who have scored goals and played as a national team player. I just want to be an example for other female athletes who are moms or want to become moms — knowing that they still belong in the game after they have kids.
“You can be a mom and still be at the top of your game so I want to continue to show that and tonight was the first step of that.”