Last night, in the 35th minute of a de facto tournament final, Megan Rapinoe set up the U.S. women’s national team’s third goal with a perfect nutmeg one-timer. She had already scored twice in the first quarter or so of the game, only to follow her goals up by rudely punting Argentina out of the game for good with this little flick.
You will likely not be surprised to learn that the USWNT is once again crushing everything in its path. The team’s 6–0 victory last night wrapped up a dominant SheBelieves Cup, in which they scored nine goals and conceded zero. The U.S. is 16–0 under new coach Vlatko Andonovski, winning those games by a total score of 59–3. Even predating Andonovski’s tenure, since the last SheBelieves Cup in 2019 (which they also won), the USWNT is 32–0–1 with a mere 10 goals conceded. It is telling that the importance of the annual, U.S.-hosted tournament is not in whether the USWNT wins it, but how they win it and who proves themselves as worthy of inclusion in the XI in subsequent World Cups and Olympics. Should the latter tournament happen this summer, the Americans will be heavy favorites.
Now, Argentina is not a good team, and was only included in the field because Japan declined to participate. And Canada—typically a stalwart USWNT rival—came to the tournament missing several of its usual starters. The teams that did show up were met with the asymmetrical force of a goal-hungry group of Americans all vying for a spot to the currently hypothetical Tokyo Olympics, which is how you get Rose Lavelle styling on you with a perfect pass like this.
If there’s an actually valuable takeaway from Wednesday’s romp, it’s that Alex Morgan scored her first goal since the World Cup semifinal two years ago. In the intervening time, she’s given birth and endured a bad case of COVID-19, and if she’s in top form, she gives the team an ever-present scoring threat in the middle. The squad is deeper than ever, with fierce competition at every spot except perhaps center back, and I want to see them get a chance to tear through their rivals like they did two years ago at the World Cup. The world expects them to do so, no matter who exactly makes the plane to Tokyo. Hell, winning the gold medal might actually be easier than even making the team.