Catarina Macario had her eyes on the prize against Iceland
Catarina Macario was everything a striker should be on Wednesday. She was selfish and self-confident enough to go for arguably ambitious shots knowing she has the skillset to land them. Yet later, despite the allure of a possible hat trick, she was unselfish enough to turn a likely goal into an automatic goal by handing the ball over to Mallory Pugh.
The young striker was goalless in the SheBelieves Cup prior to Wednesday’s match against Iceland, but in a must-win game she came through with goals one and two for the USWNT, more or less securing them the SheBelieves Cup title before the second half even kicked off.
Catarina Macario might as well have had sparks flying off her boot as the ball sizzled off the post and into the net for goal number one, a magical strike from distance. A quick, split-second glance at goal and a leg trained for power and precision led to an uproar of cheers from the (very cold) USWNT faithful and the commentators (a welcome relief from hearing them butcher the pronunciation of Icelandic names).
Goal number two was no less magical. Just when you thought a heavy, wayward pass from Pugh to Macario had killed the goal-scoring opportunity, Macario’s hips swiveled back to face goal and a perfectly weighted chipped shot to the far corner put an end to Iceland’s hopes of getting back in the game. And these are descendants of Vikings! They’re notoriously hard to break.
Catarina Macario wasn’t the only dominant force in the game. The youth of the USWNT were firing on all cylinders. But Macario’s masterful performance unsurprisingly earned her Woman of the Match and SheBelieves Cup MVP honors.
Head coach Vlatko Andonovski is spoiled for choice when it comes to forming a USWNT roster for the next major tournament. When the moment comes that he’s forced to trim the squad and merge old and new, Catarina Macario will undoubtedly be one of the young talents still standing.