Megan Rapinoe, USWNT dominate Argentina to win SheBelieves Cup

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United States forward Megan Rapinoe (15) and Argentina defender Marina Delgado (4) compete for a ball during the second half of a SheBelieves Cup women's soccer match, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe and Argentina defender Marina Delgado compete for the ball during the second half of a SheBelieves Cup match on Wednesday in Orlando, Fla. (Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

Vlatko Andonovski has auditioned several dozen players in his 16 games as coach of the women’s national team, only to see the U.S. wind up right back where it was when the last World Cup ended 17 months ago.

When the team carried off the trophy that night in Lyon, France, its leading scorers were Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, Rose Lavelle controlled the midfield and veteran Carli Lloyd refused to act her age.

On Wednesday in Orlando, Fla., the U.S. carried off another trophy, beating Argentina 6-0 to win the SheBelieves Cup. And again it was Rapinoe, Morgan and Lloyd leading the offense, combining for four goals, while Lavelle took home the MVP award.

“It does feel similar in the sense that we were kind of in tournament mode again. It’s something we’re familiar with,” Lavelle said. “And we’re always happy to be able to get the trophy at the end.

“Hopefully we can keep doing that.”

U.S. players and coaches pose for a group photo.
U.S. players and coaches pose for a group photo during the trophy presentation after a SheBelieves Cup match against Argentina on Wednesday in Orlando, Fla. (Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

But that success makes Andonovski’s job only more difficult between now and July, when he has to cut his 23-woman roster to 18 for the Tokyo Olympics. Andonovski, who has yet to lose as U.S. coach, used 22 players in the three-game SheBelieves Cup and said every spot on the Olympic team remains open.

Rapinoe opened the scoring with goals 10 minutes apart, giving her a team-high five in as many games this year. Lavelle assisted on the first while an unselfish Lloyd, 38, set up the second before making it 3-0 with a goal of her own in the 35th minute.

After Kristie Mewis made it 4-0 just before the half, Morgan and Christen Press closed the scoring in the final six minutes. For Morgan, the goal was her first for the national team since the World Cup semifinals while for Press her score was the 13th in her last 29 international games.

“To say it’s been a long time is like an understatement,” said Morgan, 31, who gave birth to her first child last spring, which caused her to miss a year. “I am very excited to get my first goal back with the national team and join that list of moms on the team who have scored goals and played as a national team player.”

Her return will make Andonovski’s task more difficult. “Selecting the roster is an ongoing process,” he said. “Everything that we do in camp, in training, in games is going to be important. A lot of things come in play. The performance, health, fitness, fit on the team, position that they play. Versatility.

“Right now we’re still evaluating everyone and the list is still pretty big.”

In Wednesday’s opening game, Brazil got first-half goals from Debinha and Julia Bianchi to beat Canada 2-0 to finish as runner-up.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.