It was notable because the world champions’ return blended old elements and new. It’s 2021, and there were Megan Rapinoe, 35, starting on the left flank and Carli Lloyd, 38, starting at striker.
At the start of the second half, there was the debut of attacker Catarina Macario, the best player to come out of college soccer in some time. On ability, she would have played for the national team by now.
Born in Brazil, Macario became a citizen this past fall and was cleared by FIFA to represent the United States last week.
The Stanford star skipped her last year of NCAA eligibility to sign this month with European champion Olympique Lyonnais.
Her long-awaited entry added another weapon to a top-ranked U.S. arsenal working out the kinks ahead of the Olympics this summer.
“As we go forward,” Coach Vlatko Andonovski said, “we are going to see her better and better and more and more of her.”
Macario, 21, replaced Rapinoe, who, like Lloyd, made her first appearance for club or country since March.
Rapinoe and Lloyd each recorded an assist in the first half, and Lloyd set up Kristie Mewis’s 85th-minute goal, in their effort to secure a place on the 18-player Olympic roster.
“Both of them seem to just be ageless,” Sam Mewis said. “It forces all of us to grow. They just set such a high standard for the rest of the team, so regardless of when the last time they played, they are both incredible players and incredible people. This team is really lucky to have people that are so dedicated, so committed and so good.”
Lloyd returned from personal hiatus and minor knee surgery to play all 90 minutes.
“I feel mentally and physically recharged,” she said. “This is probably the best I’ve felt.”
The United States extended its unbeaten streak to 33 matches (30-0-3) since losing at France in a January 2019 friendly. The last home defeat came in July 2017 against Australia in Seattle.
Andonovski remained perfect through 12 matches — the best coaching start in program history — since succeeding Jill Ellis in late 2019.
He did not mess around with the lineup, summoning 10 World Cup veterans. The exception was Lynn Williams, who took Tobin Heath’s place at right wing.
Heath and Christen Press remained with Manchester United, while first-choice striker Alex Morgan was not available for training camp after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Midfielder Rose Lavelle, a World Cup star recovering from injury, entered in the 64th minute.
Meanwhile, four Colombian players were ruled out because of coronavirus protocols. An assistant coach had tested positive upon arrival in Florida, and contact tracing revealed three players were possibly exposed. The players tested negative, but out of an abundance of caution, they were held out.
A fourth player received inconclusive results and was scratched as well. Negative tests in the coming days would clear them for Friday’s rematch in Orlando.
Colombia, ranked second in South America behind Brazil and 26th in the world, did not qualify for the Olympics and has turned its attention to the 2023 World Cup. Neglected by Colombia’s soccer federation, the women’s team had not played since winning the gold medal at the Pan American Games in August 2019.
None of the European-based players were available.
If took four minutes for the United States to exert its vast superiority; Rapinoe was left with acres of space and crossed to the unmarked Sam Mewis for a 14-yard one-timer.
The lead grew in the 33rd minute when Mewis collected her second goal. Lindsey Horan crossed to the back side, where Lloyd nodded the ball into the six-yard box for Mewis’s easy header.
Ten seconds into the second half, Horan was taken down in the box and Mewis followed with a penalty kick for her first career hat trick. Her sister applied the finishing touches.
“To have Kristie score, too, was incredible and special,” Sam Mewis said. “I feel so lucky for both of us to be here.”