Sam Mewis became the 30th player in USWNT to score at least 20 goals. (Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
As it turned out, the only person at Exploria Stadium who could stop Sam Mewis from finding the back of the net Monday night was U.S. women’s national team head coach Vlatko Andonovski.
By the time Andonovski pulled the talented midfielder in the 64th minute, Mewis already had notched her first international hat-trick, sparking the USA to a 4-0 victory over a young Colombian side in Orlando. Her sister, Kristie Mewis scored the fourth goal in the waning minutes.
“I’m just so proud of Kristie,” Sam said.” I think it’s so cool to watch her succeed here and to have her here, even though we can’t really like hang out because of COVID protocols, just knowing that she’s here and seeing her practice every day. … I feel so lucky that we both get to be here and it’s just been so much fun.”
Sam Mewis, the 2020 U.S. Soccer player of the year. showed off her scoring skills, scoring with her left foot, head and then from the penalty spot as she became the 30th player in the team’s history to reach 30 career goals. She left the match with 21 goals as Rose Lavelle subbed for her.
“I think it was a great performance,” Andonovski said. “I don’t think its the best. Sam still has a lot to grow.”
Carli Lloyd, 38, played the entire 90 minutes and assisted on two goals.
“High tempo, great pace the whole game,” Andonovski said. “Just a great example for the other players.”
The Colombians, who did not use any of their European-based players, were forced to play without four players, who sat out the match due to precautionary reasosns after positive COVID-19 test by a member of the team staff.
The USA remained unbeaten against the South American side, raising its record to 5-0-1. The Americans, who are unbeaten in 33 matches, helped raise Andonovski’s record to 12-0-0.
USWNT goalkeeper Alyssa Nahaer, who didn’t have to work too much, was credited with her 38th career shutout.
The teams will tussle again, same time, and same place at 7 p.m. Et Friday.
The first half seemed to be soccer’s version of of the movie Ground Hog Day. The hosts dominated, took shot after shot after shot, but failed to cash in on most of its opportunities.
The Americans made it look too easy in the early going as they struck only four minutes after kickoff. Lindsey Horan fed an onrushing Megan Rapinoe on the left wing. Rapinoe sent a cross into the penalty area and Mewis left-footed in past goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda.
For the next 25 minutes, the USWNT controlled play but could not get off many quality shots.
Rapinoe decided to take a crack from distance, but her attempt just hit the outside of the post in the 29th minute.
Four minutes later, the USA struck paydirt a second time on a double-header goal. This time a left-wing cross by Horan found Carli Lloyd open on the opposite side of the box. The Delran, N.J. native headed it into the middle to Mewis, who had an easy header tap-in for a two-goal advantage.
Mewis got her hat-trick two minutes into the second half after Horan was fouled in the penalty area. She stepped up and drilled a shot into the lower left corner for a 3-0 lead.
“By some stroke of luck I happened to be on the penalty kick list tonight,” Mewis said. “And then we just happen to get one when it was my turn. So, I really do look back on the goals and I know that they were all team goals.
“The first one was a great build up and was a perfect pass from Pinoe. The second one was Carli passing to me with her head. Then the third one that’s actually something we work on all the time. That kickoff play that gets flipped on and then Lindsey set ourself up into the fall. I can’t take all the credit at all.”
Brazilian-born Catarina Macario, who last week became an American citizen, made her much anticipated USWNT debut, replacing Rapinoe at halftime. She gave the USA some added energy over the final 45 minutes.
“I thought she did great,” Andonovski said. “She was very comfortable, floated around, found spaces.”
Kristie Mewis, who came on as a second-half sub, made it 4-0 in the 86th minute as she put in a Lloyd feed from the left side from eight yards.