Sam Mewis's Hat Trick Leads U.S. Over Colombia in Eventful First USWNT Match of 2021

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It's the Mewis sisters' world, and we're just living in it.

In its first match on home soil in 313 days, the U.S. women's national team easily dispatched Colombia, 4–0, on Monday night thanks to four goals from Mewis. 

Which Mewis, you ask?

The first three came via hat trick by Sam, with the 28-year-old Manchester City midfielder—fresh off being named 2020 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year—accomplishing the feat for the first time in her international career. Sam Mewis had a first-half brace before completing her trifecta from the penalty spot in 46th minute.

Her older sister Kristie, who made a dramatic return to the USWNT after six years back in November, then added the U.S.'s fourth of the night in the 85th minute after subbing on in the second half.

USWNT Sam Mewis celebrates with Megan Rapinoe

Sam Mewis celebrates the first of her three goals with Megan Rapinoe.

The friendly—one of two between these two international clubs this week, with the latter taking place on Friday—marked not just the USWNT's first game of 2021, but also the return of two key veterans to the pitch to kick off what's expected to be an Olympic year as players vie for one of just 18 roster spots at the tournament.

Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe played their first minutes—for any team—since March 11, 2020, after sitting out the 2020 NWSL season and the U.S.'s fall camps for injury recovery and rest. With forwards Christen Press (on loan at Manchester United), Tobin Heath (also on loan at Man United) and Alex Morgan (COVID-19) all absent for this January camp, Lloyd and Rapinoe both earned starts on Monday, with Rapinoe playing the first half and Lloyd going a full 90.

While neither got on the scoresheet, Rapinoe made her presence felt almost immediately with the assist on Sam Mewis's first goal of the night in the fifth minute.

Playing in the striker role, the 38-year-old Lloyd struggled to find the back of the net going against Colombia keeper Sandra Sepúlveda—who held her own Monday night up against the U.S.'s offensive firepower—but finished with a pair of assists. Lloyd connected with Sam Mewis on a header-to-header goal in the 33rd minute, then provided excellent service for Kristie late after beating her defender deep in the box.

Monday also saw the long-awaited debut of Catarina Macario, the 21-year-old Brazilian-born phenom who, just last week, had her eligibility to represent the U.S. approved by FIFA. Earlier this month, Macario opted out of her senior year at Stanford and turned down the NWSL to sign professionally with French powerhouse Lyon.

Macario had her moments against Colombia, showing poise and pizzazz and narrowly missing a goal of her own when her curling effort in the 70th minute went just wide.

On the whole, it wasn't the most clinical night for Vlatko Andonovski's team, which probably feels it could've put away more than four of its 22 shots (11 of which were on target). The U.S. dominated possession 64%–36% against a young and short-handed Colombia side, which showed resiliency despite being down four players due to COVID-19 contact-tracing protocols. 

Beyond the Mewis sisters' goals, it was a strong night for the USWNT midfield, with starters Lindsey Horan and Julie Ertz helping control the ball and the tempo. Outside backs Crystal Dunn and Kelley O'Hara frequently sprung forward to deftly join the attack, with goalie Alyssa Naeher being sparsely tested.

Next up for the U.S. is another friendly vs. Colombia on Friday, which will end this January camp. The group will then come back together in February for the annual SheBelieves Cup, this year hosting matches against Brazil, Canada and Japan. 

With only six months before the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are scheduled to begin, it's already crunch time for Andonovski, who will have the unenvious task of putting together an 18-player roster for his first major tournament as USWNT coach. While he brought 27 women in to this camp (with Press, Morgan and Heath seemingly completing the pool at 30), only 18 can suit up for each friendly, making it all the more critical that players impress in the opportunities they're given.