The U.S. women's national team has won consecutive SheBelieves Cup titles for the first time, putting the finishing touches on the 2021 edition in emphatic fashion with a 6-0 win over Argentina Wednesday night.
The U.S. had won in 2016, 2018 and 2020, sandwiching triumphs by France and England, but has now gone back-to-back after besting a field that also included Canada and Brazil, who are tied for eighth in FIFA's latest world ranking. Argentina, tied for 31st, was a substitute for Olympic host and 10th-ranked Japan, which had withdrawn due to COVID-19 concerns at home.
The U.S. didn't concede a goal in the competition and has now kept clean sheets in 14 of its last 15 matches, including the last six. The team also extended its unbeaten streak to 37 games, with its last defeat coming in a friendly to France on Jan. 19, 2019. The U.S. has won the last 16 in that stretch—each one coming since manager Vlatko Andonovski took charge—last failing to win in a 1–1 draw vs. South Korea on Oct. 6, 2019.
The U.S. only needed a draw to win the competition–a round-robin group in which the final table after three matches apiece determined the winner–but it made sure to complete its perfect run by scoring early and often. The first came through veteran star Megan Rapinoe, who scored for a second straight game. Rose Lavelle, who scored the winner off the bench in the opener vs. Canada, delivered a chip down the center, and Rapinoe connected for a first-time finish in the 16th minute.
Rapinoe scored again 10 minutes later, assisted by another all-time U.S. great in Carli Lloyd. Christen Press played Lloyd—who is now on 299 caps—into space down the right-hand side, and she charged forward before squaring a pass for an on-rushing Rapinoe.
The lead grew to 3–0 in the 35th minute, when Lloyd got a goal of her own by finishing off a cross from Kristie Mewis. Rapinoe sprung Mewis forward with a tremendous flick, and the Houston Dash star did the rest by setting up Lloyd.
Mewis, who was making her first USWNT start in almost seven years, got in on the scoring in the 41st minute after some high pressure from Casey Kreuger. The left back played in Mewis, whose deft touch shook her defender before a confident finish.
The U.S. turned to its bench at halftime, with Andonovski bringing Alex Morgan, Lindsey Horan and Midge Purce on for Lavelle, Lloyd and Kreuger. Julie Ertz and Rapinoe made way for youngsters Jaelin Howell (21) and Sophia Smith (20) just after the hour mark, exhausting all the subs after Kelley O'Hara was replaced by Emily Sonnett in a pre-planned move after half an hour (O'Hara was making her return from injury).
The U.S. took its foot off the gas, at least from a scoring standpoint, for the most part until Morgan scored in the 84th minute after a through ball from Smith. The goal was Morgan's first with the U.S. since the 2019 Women's World Cup—she was out for a considerable amount of time while pregnant and after childbirth—and came in the home stadium of her club, the Orlando Pride.
Press capped the rout four minutes later, with Mewis's corner kick being headed back across goal by Horan to Press, who headed in at the post.
Next up for the U.S. women is the April FIFA window, for which U.S. Soccer is reportedly working to arrange a pair of friendlies in Europe, according to The Washington Post. It will coincide with the NWSL's Challenge Cup, meaning players based in the league called in will miss out on the tournament that precedes the 2021 regular season.