The United States Women’s National Team put Colombia in a blender, winning 6-0 in the second of two friendlies between the teams this week at Exploria Stadium. Catarina Macario and Midge Purce scored their first USWNT goals, Megan Rapinoe added a brace, and Lynn Williams and Lindsey Horan also scored for the Yanks, who once again smothered the Colombians with a stifling press that kept the visitors on their back heels all night.
The USWNT improved to 7-0-1 in the all-time series against Colombia and 31-0-3 in the last 34 matches overall. The U.S. women are now 4-0-0 at Exploria Stadium, outscoring opponents 13-0.
“We started working from the October camp on. We started tweaking the way we’re defending a little bit, which I think that it seems like we’re moving in the right direction,” U.S. Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski said after the match. “At least the stats show that we’re moving in the right direction. I still feel like there are things that we can get better at. But then on the other side, I feel like we are able to create more opportunities, or we’re creating a lot of opportunities. You know, we did it against Holland. We did it now in these two games. We’re just getting closer to the final touch, the final piece, and just capitalizing on all these opportunities.”
Andonovski rotated his squad from Monday’s lineup, making seven changes. He handed Catarina Macario her first USWNT start up top between Monday starters Megan Rapinoe and Lynn Williams. Rose Lavelle stepped into the starting lineup in place of Lindsey Horan on the right side of the midfield, alongside Sam Mewis and Julie Ertz. The entire back line rotated out, with Emily Sonnett and Ali Krieger on the left and right, respectively, of center backs Tierna Davidson and Alana Cook. Jane Campbell made just her second career start in goal in place of Alyssa Naeher, with Orlando Pride stopper Ashlyn Harris available on the bench.
The U.S. started on the front foot, getting a scoring chance just 13 seconds into the game. The Yanks worked a set play off the opening kickoff and it ended with Lavelle firing a shot just over the bar. Macario had a shot blocked in the second minute but the U.S. press again created issues for Colombia and the Yanks broke through seconds later.
Krieger fizzed a cross into the area and found Macario at the near post. She smashed it into the net to score her first career USWNT goal at the three-minute mark. There was, unfortunately, no assist for Krieger as the cross took a slight deflection, but the U.S. led 1-0 anyway.
“Ali played a wonderful ball and I was able to just finish it off like we had been training in practice,” Macario said. “I feel like this week I’ve had a lot of dreams come true just in a very short amount and I’m so grateful for it.”
A minute after the goal, Mewis nearly doubled the lead, firing a deflected shot that went just wide.
The U.S. attack continued to favor the right side, with Krieger sending some good balls into the area. She picked out Macario in the 16th minute, leading to a corner kick and then sent in a recycled ball off the ensuing set piece that Ertz headed wide.
Mewis recovered the ball on the left side in the 22nd minute and started another good sequence for the U.S., crossing to Lavelle, who laid off for Macario. The shot took a deflection and hit off the post as Macario nearly had her second of the game.
Macario again came close in the 30th minute, smashing a shot from the top of the box that forced a great diving save by Sandra Sepulveda. Cook popped a shot up onto the roof of the net on the ensuing corner. Williams should have made it 2-0 in the 33rd minute, but she fired just wide off a good cross from Sonnett.
However, Rapinoe doubled the lead two minutes later. The ball found the veteran winger on the left side of the penalty area and she fired a shot that hit the foot of Carolina Arias and deflected inside the near post to make it 2-0 in the 35th minute.
Lavelle nearly made it 3-0 a minute later. After Sepulveda came off her line to make a play, Lavelle smashed a shot at the seemingly empty net but it hit Nancy Acosta and deflected out for a corner.
The third goal came just before halftime. While Rapinoe was delivering the USWNT’s ninth corner kick of the first half, Daniela Arias wrapped up Mewis and pulled her down in the area. Referee Daniele Chesky immediately blew the whistle and pointed to the spot. Rapinoe tucked her shot just inside the right post, beating Sepulveda to make it 3-0 in the 44th minute.
It was a comfortable opening 45 minutes and Colombia simply had no answer to the U.S. pressure. Krieger and Sonnett provided good width in the attack and Macario and Lavelle especially had no trouble carving through the defense. If there was one criticism of the U.S. it was a lack of lethality with the final ball. The USWNT led in shots (19-1), shots on goal (6-0), corners (9-0), possession (66%-34%), and passing accuracy (77%-55%).
Rapinoe tried to complete her hat trick in the first minute of the second half, but smashed her shot from distance over the bar. The U.S. momentum continued moments later when Krieger nearly picked out Macario at the back post but Sepulveda got a touch to it to prevent an easy goal. Moments later, Krieger sent a header on frame but Sepulveda was there to make a comfortable save.
Sepulveda was called into action again in the 57th minute, this time making an outstanding save to deny a drive by Lavelle. It was a momentary reprieve because the U.S. scored its fourth goal three minutes later.
Mewis crossed in from the left and Williams rose to meet it, heading it past Sepulveda to make it 4-0 in the 60th minute.
Mewis should have made it 5-0 less than a minute later. A cross in from the right found her all alone at the left post but her header went off that very part of the frame, hit a Colombian defender, and bounced just over the crossbar on the ricochet. It was amazing that the ball didn’t go in on that sequence, but for the moment it remained a 4-0 game.
Campbell finally had something to do in the 65th minute. Second-half sub Kena Romero freed herself up for a shot at the top of the area, but the ball was deflected by the defense and Campbell came out to collect easily.
Mewis suffered an injury moments later, with the trainers coming on to test her ankle. She left the match.
“She’s very strong and very tough, and the first impression when we asked her, she goes ‘oh I’m fine, I’m fine,’” Andonovski said. “But obviously we’re doing all the exams and doing everything possible and following all the protocols to make sure that she’s really fine. We don’t know what fine means in her world so pretty soon we’re going to know how she feels.”
The fifth goal came in the 73rd minute. Completely unmarked, substitute Horan got on the end of a Crystal Dunn corner and swept it in to make it 5-0.
It was just a matter of how many the U.S. would score at that point. The ball continued to ping around the Yanks’ final third, and chances and half chances continued through the rest of the night. The sixth goal could have gone in any number of times, but it finally did so in the 86th minute. Carli Lloyd gathered the ball on the left, cut inside and launched either a shot or a cross toward the back post. Purce was cutting through the area and flicked it on with a header to notch her first international goal.
Lloyd would have added a seventh in stoppage time but she was offside on the play. The 6-0 result was deserved for the U.S. in a comprehensive victory over a young, overmatched Colombian side.
The United States led in shots (33-2), shots on target (12-0), corners (21-0), possession (67%-33%), and passing accuracy (80%-57%).
The U.S. will return to action next month at Exploria Stadium in the SheBelieves Cup, taking on Canada Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. Brazil and Japan will also take part in the competition.