Megan Rapinoe scored twice in the opening half. (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
ORLANDO – Playing in her second game in less than a year, Megan Rapinoe demonstrated she had not lost the magic touch that has made her one of the leading women’s soccer players in the world, if not the best.
Rapinoe bagged a brace in the opening half for the U.S. women’s national team in its 6-0 victory over a young Colombia squad at Exploria Stadium Friday night.
Katarina Macario, Lynn Williams, Lindsey Horan and Midge Purce added goals for the Americans, who had bested the Colombian by a 4-0 in the same venue Monday night.
“Just to have the depth this young is huge,” Rapinoe said.
Goalkeeper Jane Campbell recorded the shutout.
Head coach Vlatko Andonovski decided to rest seven players from Monday night’s 4-0 triumph here. The only four players who found themselves in the Starting XI for both matches were Sam Mewis, Julie Ertz, Rapinoe and Williams.
Only three minutes into her first start, Macario reminded everyone why there were such great expectations of the former Stanford University standout. Overlapping down the right flank, fullback Ali Krieger sent a cross tto the Brazilian native and Macario slipped a shot from five yards past goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda for a 1-0 lead.
“Ali played a wonderful ball in,” she said. “I just had to finish it off just like in practice.
On Monday, Macario made her international debut. On Friday, she scored her first international goal.
“I have a lot of aspirations,” she said. “I don’t have the words to describe the emotions I have.”
“I don’t know if we ever had a striker that played like her,” Rapinoe said. “She is a different nine than we’ve always ad. The kind of goals that she scores. Physically, she’s ready to be at this level. She is going to be one of those fun players you like to see.”
In the 22nd minute, Macario banged a shot off the left post after a short pass from Rose Lavelle. On the half hour, she forced Sepulveda to dive to her left to knock the ball away.
Rapinoe connected for her first goal from 16 yards in the 35th minute.
After Sam Mewis was taken down in the box, Rapinoe powered a penalty kick into the lower right corner in the 44th minute for a three-goal halftime advantage.
“I’m very thankful to [Andonovski] and the staff to put the trust in me that I would show up and be ready to go,” Rapinoe said. “Eventually, I’ll get back to 90 [minutes]. So, I’ll take the slow path.”
Williams made it 4-0 on the hour. Sam Mewis, the hat-trick hero of Monday’s encounter, started the sequence with a throw-in. She got the ball back and sent a left-wing cross to Williams, who headed the ball home at the far post.
Two minutes later, Mewis hit the left post on a close-range header on the left side of the penalty area.
And that’s when Rapinoe was replaced by Crystal Dunn. The Rockville Centre, N.Y. native, who usually plays at left back for the squad, made a rare appearance in an attacking role for the national side.
Sam Mewis gave the USWNT and its fans a major scare when she injured her left ankle. She walked off the field in pain and had an ice bag on it on the sidelines.
Afterwards, Andonovski said he and his staff did not know Mewis’ condition.
“She’s very strong and very tough,” he said, adding that the midfielder said that “I’m fine, I’m fine.”
He added: We don’t know what fine means in her world.”
Dunn got into the act in the 73rd minute as Horan headed in her corner kick for a five-goal bulge.
Sky Blue FC teammates Carli Lloyd and Midge Purce got together for goal No. 6 in the 86th minute as the former’s cross from the left side set up the later’s head on the right side.