He got them, early and often, during a 6-0 romp over Argentina at Exploria Stadium. The top-ranked Americans breezed to a 16th consecutive victory and extended their unbeaten streaks to 37 games overall and 53 at home.
Until the tournament’s final day, though, the United States (3-0-0) was tested. Victories against top-10 foes Canada and Brazil yielded three combined goals and several uneasy defensive moments.
Midfielder Rose Lavelle, the tournament MVP, said: “With both Brazil and Canada, we knew we needed to be more clinical and clean up those technical pieces. We knew we had to buckle down and capitalize more so. That was the difference.”
Andonovski said he would have been more concerned had his team not created a wealth of opportunities. The problem was in finishing them.
There were no such issues against 31st-ranked Argentina (0-3-0). Megan Rapinoe scored in the 16th and 26th minutes. Carli Lloyd struck in the 35th, and Kristie Mewis added to the onslaught four minutes before halftime.
Late in the match, Alex Morgan scored for the first time since the 2019 World Cup semifinals, a span that included a layoff to give birth to her first child in May.
“I just want to be an example for other female athletes who are moms or want to become moms, knowing they still belong in the game after they have kids,” Morgan said. "You can be a mom and still be at the top of your game.”
Christen Press also scored in the closing stage as the Americans won the sixth annual competition for the fourth time.
Olympic preparations will continue April 5-13 with two friendlies in Europe against opponents to be announced.
Five players made their first tournament starts Wednesday: Mewis, goalkeeper Jane Campbell, defenders Kelley O’Hara, Tierna Davidson and Casey Krueger.
In her first appearance after recovering from a minor injury, O’Hara logged a preplanned 30-plus minutes before making way for Washington Spirit teammate Emily Sonnett.
Over the course of the tournament, 20 of the 23 players started at least once, allowing Andonovski to continue evaluating his player pool for the 18 Olympic roster slots, five fewer than the World Cup. Two injured regulars (Tobin Heath and Sam Mewis) are among about five others in the mix.
“With this game, we’re getting a step closer,” Andonovski said. “A lot of things come into play: performance, fitness, the fit on the team, versatility and specialty. It’s an ongoing process, and as we go forward, I’m sure I am going to have more clear answers. Right now, we’re still evaluating everyone, and the list is pretty big.”
Vying to win the backup slot behind Alyssa Naeher, Campbell had little to do during her third career start. She and a back line anchored by captain Becky Sauerbrunn recorded the team’s sixth consecutive shutout, 14th in 15 games and 28th during an unbeaten streak that began after a 3-1 defeat at France in January 2019.
Lloyd made her 299th appearance, one short of joining former teammates Kristine Lilly (354) and Christine Pearce Rampone (311) in the 300 club.
The goals began flowing early. Lavelle chipped the ball ahead to Rapinoe, who one-timed a 17-yard effort. Ten minutes later, a combination involving O’Hara, Press and Lloyd resulted in Rapinoe’s sliding finish from close range — her 57th goal in 173 appearances.
After hitting the left post, Lloyd got into the scoring act by making a near-post run and redirecting Mewis’s cross. Krueger then set up Mewis for a 10-yard shot to the far corner.
Andonovski made three substitutions at halftime and two more in the 62nd minute.
Morgan scored her 108th international goal after Sophia Smith, 20, supplied her on a central run. Press added her 60th career goal on a header, set up by Lindsey Horan’s header.
“Overall, I’m very happy with how we performed and how we were able to unlock Argentina early in the game," Andonovski said, "and how we finished the game, as well.”
In the first game, Brazil (2-1-0) secured second place in the tournament with a 2-0 victory over Canada (1-2-0). The teams share FIFA’s No. 8 ranking, and both have qualified for the Olympics.
After combining with Debinha in the 15th minute, Adriana sent an angled shot between goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé's legs and off the far post. Debinha, who plays for the NWSL’s North Carolina Courage, stabbed in the rebound.
In the 39th minute, Canada’s failure to clear in the box allowed Júlia to lift a 12-yard shot into the far side.
Brazil was in terrific rhythm, and if not for Labbé's pushing Adriana’s 25-yard blast off the crossbar, the outcome would have been settled by halftime.
Canada showed marked improvement in the second half and generated several threats but sorely missed injured striker Christine Sinclair, international soccer’s all-time scoring leader.