Catarina Macario has joined the conversation. The United States women’s national team needed a win over Iceland to win the SheBelieves Cup, and Macario answered the call with a pair of spectacular goals to lead the USWNT to a 5-0 victory and the title.
The United States Women’s National Team arrived to the SheBelieves Cup looking for the next generation of stars to take over from the old guard. Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Christen Press, and Julie Ertz were left off the roster as manager Vlatko Andonovski utilised the tournament to put the younger players to the test and see who was ready to step up.
Take, for example, Macario’s test, which he aced with flying colours.
The former Stanford Cardinal’s chipped finishes were breathtaking, and her tenacity and selflessness helped her score another goal. And she worked her magic just when the USWNT was struggling to break through Iceland’s tenacious defence.
Her first goal was incredible. In the 37th minute, Ashley Sanchez played a fantastic deep pass that launched Macario along the left flank. The Iceland defence appeared to have the U.S. move covered, but Macario didn’t seem to worry, delivering a magnificent looped effort that reduced Iceland goalkeeper Sandra Siguroardottir to a bystander, only able to watch it nestle in the far corner.
While that would end up being the game-winner, she wasn’t finished yet, as she added another shortly before halftime. Although it appeared that she was aiming for teammate Mallory Pugh’s head at the far post, her turnaround dink sailed into the far corner, leaving Siguroardottir frozen to the spot once more.
Iceland never threatened from that point on. The visitors in Frisco, Texas were just along for the ride, holding just 38 percent possession and producing just two total shots, one of which hit the target.
For all of Macario’s first-half heroics, there were other standout performers. Sanchez delivered an outlandish through-ball that sliced and diced the Iceland back line for the assist on Pugh’s first goal to put the USWNT up 3-0.
Pugh herself was dangerous on and off the ball, finding space and turning defenders all over the field, grabbing a second in the 75th minute after pressure and unselfishness from Macario.
Sophia Smith was another notable performance who was unlucky not to score, while Kristie Mewis, a midfielder, was ever-present and scored the game’s final goal to top off an outstanding 90 minutes.
Andonovski came to the SheBelieves Cup hoping to find new talent that can assist the USWNT progress as it prepares for the CONCACAF W Championship this summer, which will serve as qualification for the FIFA World Cup and Olympics. He won the SheBelieves title after a three-match run in which he yielded zero goals and improved with each match.
More importantly, he departs with a clear talisman in Catarina Macario, who has undoubtedly earned a spot on the US national team in the future.