It might have gotten on ESPN 2 10 minutes after kickoff because the network decided to bump the WNT match to show college basketball players take 15 minutes to foul each other for two minutes, but the USA vs. Iceland broadcast eventually started. In any case, the Americans entered the match needing a win in order to be crowned She Believes Cup champs after Iceland won their previous two matches in the tournament.
The USA lineup would see the return of Kelley O’Hara to the XI, while Sophia Smith, Mal Pugh, and Catarina Macario would lead the line.
Our gals. #SheBelievesCup x @Visa— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) February 24, 2022
Meanwhile, lots of Dottirs lined up for Iceland as the team sought to over come long odds and write a legendary saga of their own.
Byrjunarlið A kvenna fyrir leikinn gegn Bandaríkjunum!— Knattspyrnusambandið (@footballiceland) February 24, 2022
Leikurinn hefst kl. 02:08 að íslenskum tíma og verður í beinni útsendingu á RÚV!
Our starting lineup for the final game of SheBelieves Cup.#dottir #SheBelievesCup pic.twitter.com/qZYWHD0Ym8
In the end, the front three of the USA carried the day. Catarina Macario scored a pair of goals in the first half after Iceland put up a decent fight to keep the game at 0-0 past the first half-hour. A second half brace from Mal Pugh and a late goal from Sam Mewis brought the She Believes Cup home for the Stars and Stripes.
Gifs of Catarina Macario scoring impossible goals
The early going of the game had a certain madcap energy that the previous game against New Zealand was missing. Iceland presented a nice contrast to the match against New Zealand in which the Football Ferns looked totally overwhelmed by the Americans. The stelpurnar okkar pushed forward and caused some problems for the American defense, but no real chances for the visitors materialized.
The Americans, meanwhile, were successful at working the ball forward into the attacking third and forced several saves early in the match. The game would be deadlocked until the 37th minute when a ball played wide to Macario found the attacker in space on the left. She cut in to set up a shot and scored an absolute worldie that she banked off of the far post and into the net.
FROM THE CORNER OF THE BOX!!!!— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) February 24, 2022
Get in, @catarinamacario #SheBelievesCup x @Visa pic.twitter.com/TMSZ5h62EE
Then just before the half, Macario did something to somehow surpass what seemed like it would be the goal of the night. The USA was threatening but it looked as if a pass was blocked and perhaps the team would be forced to cycle the ball back to midfield to reset for another go at goal. Instead Macario decided to flense Iceland and scored an absolutely filthy goal with a terrific one time effort.
While Sandra Sigurdardottir was having a nice night in goal and it took two worldies to beat her in the first half, the USWNT would strike again in the 60th minute. This time it would be Mal Pugh doing the damage as the American striker managed to not get called for being offside and nutmegged the keeper to make it 3-0.
The 4th goal would come when Iceland lost the ball at midfield and the USWNT proved that nothing good happens when you lose the ball at midfield. Pugh and Macario swapped one-twos to unlock the Iceland defense with Macario forgoing a shot at a hat trick to set up Pugh for her second of the night.
twice as nice for @malpugh pic.twitter.com/RbYKSwK3QE— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) February 24, 2022
The first substitutes for the USA would come in the 80th minute when a trio of subs would come in. Lynn Williams, Ashley Hatch and Midge Purce entered for Pugh, Macario, and Sophia Smith. Another round of subs joined the fray as Jaelin Howell, Emily Sonnett, and Becky Sauerbrunn came on for Ashley Sanchez, Andi Sullivan, and Alana Cook.
Yet another goal would come as Purce gathered a pass on the right of the box, made a few dribbles and then sent a ball into the zone of uncertainty that Kristie Mewis poked into the net to make it 5-0 in the 87th minute.
That would be the last action of the night as the USWNT saw the game out, secured the clean sheet and emerged in a must-win game as 2022 She Believes Cup champions.