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USA vs. Colombia: what to watch for

Catarina Macario time??? Please say it’s so.

Training USWNT

It’s here! FIFA finally approved Catarina Macario to play in international games for the US women’s national team! She’s available for selection for both friendlies against Colombia and honestly everyone should be hoping for 180 minutes on the pitch, both to see if she’s ready to make the leap, and because she needs all the minutes she can get to integrate quickly with this squad if she’s going to be part of Olympic roster consideration (assuming the Olympics actually happen).

Other parts of the roster that might be of interest here:

Lindsey Horan is returning after testing positive for COVID and experiencing some symptoms, calling it “pretty miserable” for about a week-and-a-half. In another call with media, Vlatko Andonovski says the federation is following its return-to-play protocols with Horan, including EKG monitoring, to take into account not just the abatement of her immediate symptoms, but keeping in mind reports of longer-lasting effects in athletes such as myocarditis. She may end up not getting picked for the game day roster, which is fine - whatever steps here are necessary to protect her long-term health are obviously the number one priority.

Also returning from absences are Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd, although for somewhat less worrying reasons than Horan. Both of them sat out the Challenge Cup in 2020, Lloyd with a knee injury from the offseason, and Rapinoe due to an opt-out for any player concerned about COVID. There’s possibly more concern for Rapinoe here; it seems like she’s running out of gas, and it takes more and more to fill up a tank that empties faster and faster. She put her whole body on the line in the summer of 2019, helped the USWNT get that fourth star, and promptly rolled her body up in bubble wrap. So let’s see how the USWNT staff handle Rapinoe’s minutes.

On the flip side, we’ve got two young defenders who could end up becoming vital parts of the player pool in Alana Cook and Emily Fox. Both of them already have senior WNT caps as a center back and outside back, respectively, and fill in critical positions in an aging starting defensive line.

USA vs Colombia, Game 1
Monday, January 18
7 PM ET / 4 PM PT