Contributor: NWSL, Seattle Sounders FC, USWNT

By Abigail Gerken @abigailgerken22

The United States Women’s National Team played two friendlies against Colombia as a part of their January Camp. The match on January 18th resulted in a 4-0 win with a hat trick by Samantha Mewis and a goal from her older sister, Kristie Mewis. The second friendly on January 22nd ended in a dominating 6-0 win with Macario, Rapinoe, Williams, Horan, and Purce all contributing. 

The Colombian team had only 9 players on their roster with 20 or more caps. Even though the competition was not as strenuous as the U.S. is used to, there were multiple things fans can take away from the first two matches of 2021. 

  1. Carli Lloyd’s still got it. Lloyd has not played a match since the SheBelieves Cup in March 2020. The 38-year-old midfielder sat out both the NWSL Challenge Cup and Fall Series in 2020 for her club team, Sky Blue FC. Lloyd’s absence had some fans questioning how her return to play would go. During the game on January 18th, Lloyd played all 90 minutes and recorded two assists. Lloyd’s commitment to her fitness is remarkable, and above all, her leadership will be valuable to the team while they undergo an unprecedented return to play.
  1. 2021 will be the year of Samantha Mewis. As we saw with her breakthrough year in 2020, Mewis has every desirable quality for a world-class player. Mewis scored a hat trick in the first friendly against Colombia, which puts her on track for a great year. Unfortunately, Mewis picked up an ankle injury in the second friendly match on January 22nd. There will be more information to come on the diagnosis, but hopefully, she will be back to help guide this team to the Olympics. 
  2. The USWNT’s backline is as strong as ever. Becky Sauerbrunn was officially confirmed as team captain and during the January Camp, we witnessed her excellent leadership. Her center back partner, Abby Dahlkemper, just finalized a transfer to Manchester City. Coach Vlatko Andonovski played two different backlines during this Camp. The first being the prospective starting 4 of O’Hara/Sauerbrunn/Dahlkemper/Dunn, while the second group mixed NWSL veterans and youth prospects with Krieger/Davidson/Cook/Sonnett. Both groups secured shutouts and proved that no matter who is on the pitch, the USWNT’s ‘Department of Defense’ remains unmatched.
  3. The Catarina Macario Era is here. The 21-year-old midfielder became a huge light in the USWNT’s future when she announced the approval of her one-time eligibility switch from Brazil. The two-time Heisman award winner made her debut during the first friendly. Macario obtained her first start and scored her first goal for the USWNT during the second friendly. 
  1. The Olympic Roster is yet to be decided. With the 2021 Olympics coming up, a huge question is looming – who will be in the 18? With veterans like Rapinoe and Lloyd coming back strong from their extended time off and young stars like Macario and Purce scoring their first international goals, it is hard to tell where the line will be drawn. The hardest group to narrow down will be the offense. With an Olympic roster, only four or five forwards make the cut. The current forwards in the pool are Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, Christen Press, Megan Rapinoe, Mallory Pugh, Catarina Macario, Lynn Williams, and more. All of these players are extremely capable of succeeding in the Olympics, but form and versatility will be the deciding factors. 

The USWNT will next play in the 2021 SheBelieves Cup, with the first game kicking off on February 18th. They will play Canada, Brazil, and Japan in a round-robin style tournament. As always, stay tuned for more women’s soccer coverage!

Featured image: USWNT

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