Megan Rapinoe scored twice in the opening half. (Photo by Jon Van Worden)
ORLANDO – After struggling to find the net in its first two matches, the U.S. women’s national team find the range and them some to clinch its fourth SheBelieves Cup title in six tries Wednesday night.
With Megan Rapinoe leading the way with two goals, the Americans rolled to a 6-0 triumph over Argentina at Exploria Stadium.
Midfielder Rose Lavelle, the Bronze Ball winner at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, was named MVP of the competition.
“Honestly, I don’t know how I won that,” Lavelle said. ” It’s always nice to be recognized but there were other people who deserved it more.”
In a sign of the COVID-19 times, the U.S. players received their winners medals by picking them up at a table during post-game ceremonies, instead of someone handing it to them.
The victory lifted the USWNT to a 3-0-0 mark.
“We wanted to come out fast as always,” Rapinoe told FS1 afterwards. “It’s always dangerous to teams hanging around so we definitely need to do that today. Just tried to find the space be aggressive I found myself in the look in the middle a little bit more. The nines better be careful, leave me up there scoring goals. But just trying to get out there and take the chances.”
Sounds like @mPinoe’s ready 😏
44 days ‘til the NWSL returns 🙌
— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) February 25, 2021
The first half seemed like a clinic for the host side. After the opening 10 minutes, the USA dominated possession for the remainder of the half. That, in turn, was cashed into goals.
“It’s always hard to play with against the team that the sitts low,” U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “It’s hard to break them down and it’s hard to do it quick. It takes a little bit of time to figure out the the angles, to figure out the area, to figure out the positions and how we can do it. So, that was the that was the one thing that we’re looking at like how quick can we do it, who can who can figure that out and how we can unlock a team.
“So, overall very happy with how we performed and how we were able to unlock Argentina early in the game, and how we finish the game as well.”
As it turned out, the Americans had scored as many goals (three) by the 35th minute as they had in their initial two matches of the competition, wins over Canada and Brazil.
Rapinoe, the Golden Ball and Golden Boot winner at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, demonstrated that she had not lost her scoring touch by striking twice within a 10-minute span.
She connected in the 16th minute and then 10 minutes later as Carli Lloyd squared a right-wing feed to Rapinoe, who had an easy tap-in for a two-goal advantage. Rapinoe became the SheBelieves Cup all-time leading goal-scorer with six goals. Lloyd, who made her 299th international appearances, has seven assists in her last 10 international appearances.
After slamming a shot off the left post in the 28th minute, the Lloyd latched onto a Kristie Mewis feed and beat goalkeeper Solana Pereyra in the 35th minute.
Mewis closed out the scoring in the opening half after Casey Krueger intercepted a poor clearance. She passed to Mewis, who connected from the left side for a 4-0 halftime lead.
Halftime substitute Alex Morgan tallied the fifth goal in her home stadium in the 84th minute. Sophia Smith fed the striker as the Orlando Pride striker bolted into the penalty area and slotted the ball over the goalkeeper for her 108th international goal. The score snapped a fifth-place tie with Michelle Akers on the USWNT’s all-time scoring list.
Christen Press completed the scoring in the 88th minute nodding the ball home at the far right post off a Lindsay Horan header. It was Press’ 11th goal in her last 14 games.