By KEVIN BAXTER Staff Writer LA Times
January 18, 2021
Sam Mewis, US Soccer’s 2020 Female Player of the Year, Shines in win over Colombia. If Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe represent the legacy of the women’s national team and new citizen Catarina Macario represents the future, midfielder Sam Mewis is the present.
And the reigning U.S. Soccer player of the year was very much in the moment Monday, scoring her first international hat trick in a one-sided 4-0 rout of Colombia, played before a sparse crowd at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Fla.“Every goal was a team goal really,” Mewis said. Speaking of team goals, the biggest one for the top-ranked U.S. is never being satisfied, Mewis said. So while Monday’s win extended the team’s unbeaten streak to 33 games, it was just the first game of the new year, a year that includes next month’s SheBelieves Cup and the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer. To win there, being good won’t be good enough.“We learn so much from games like this,” she said. “We learned so much from this week we spent training and the times that we play against each other, making sure that we’re not just doing enough to win or doing enough to get by and make it work.
“We’re really pushing ourselves to do the absolute most we can to grow and improve the squad.”
Rapinoe and Lloyd, who have won three FIFA player of the year awards between them, had to push themselves hard just to get back on the field. Neither had played in 10 months yet both picked up right where they left off, with Rapinoe getting an assist in her 45 minutes and Lloyd getting up two while going the full 90 minutes.
“Both of them seem to just be ageless,” Mewis said. “They’ve just set such a high standard for the rest of the team.”
The U.S., given plenty of space to operate, dominated from the opening whistle, controlling the ball for nearly 60 of the 90 minutes and outshooting Colombia 22-0. However much of the dominance was wasted by the Americans’ ragged finishing and the play of veteran goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda, who made 11 saves, five in the opening half hour.
A number of those came on headers from Lloyd.
“The good thing, I guess, I was pretty accurate,” said Lloyd, who is returning from knee surgery. “I basically had to start all over again, had to get myself fit. I had to kind of learn how to push my body.
“There’s other roles for me to play besides scoring goals. I just had to find, you know, other ways to help the team in any way I could.”
The only score the U.S. needed came in the fourth minute, with Rapinoe collecting a long pass from Lindsey Horan on the edge of the penalty area and sending it into the center of the area for Mewis, who slotted it home with her left foot from the penalty spot.
Mewis would beat Sepulveda again in the 33rd minute, this time off an assist from Lloyd, who got on the end of a long, bending Horan cross at the far post and unselfishly headed it back across the front of the goal. That allowed a wide-open Mewis, alone at the other post, to dip her head and nod the ball in for a 2-0 lead.
Horan also set up Mewis’ third goal in the opening seconds of the second half, drawing a penalty Mewis converted. Kristie Mewis, Sam’s older sister, closed out the scoring in the 85th minute, redirecting in a Lloyd feed from the end line.
Macario, 21, a Brazilian native who became eligible to play for the U.S. last week, had an active second half off the bench in her senior international debut.
“Cat is a great player,” Sam Mewis said. “I’m excited to see her continue to grow. She’s creative. She’s powerful. She’s really clever on the ball and has such a good shot.
“This team is fortunate that we have a lot of great players who have a ton of experience and a lot of bright young up-and-coming players as well. That’s a blend that is really dangerous for now and for the future.” And as Mewis proved again Monday, the present’s not so bad either.