A 3-0 defeat in major competitions is a humiliating loss for the U.S. women’s team. The USA has never lost at the Olympics by such a margin, and it shouldn’t happen to them. The USA is the top-ranked team, and tournament favourites. They are also the defending World Cup champions. The fanbase is a bit confused.
No. Although the defeat to No. 5 Sweden was disappointing, it was an exception and was due to several factors.
A new coach at his first major tournament
Broadcasters were shouting it, and viewers were likely doing the same: “Can America hold the ball?” “Can anyone keep it?” This was the natural response of the viewers to the events in the game. The USA was rushing in an attack and quickly coughed it up. Sweden was right behind them the opposite way. This pattern was repeated over and again. Although it may have been beneficial for Sweden, the USA was being torn apart by the repeated pattern. The Americans needed to end the cycle.
DECOURCY – Loss to Sweden is a wake-up call for the USWNT, however it can still win everything
It was Vlatko andonovski, the head coach’s first major tournament appearance. Maybe he wasn’t willing to adjust his game plan after being faced with some difficulties. It was still fascinating to see that no one felt the need for calm, to manage the situation, or to give the team the chance to relax. It seemed as though the USA were becoming more impatient and began to run at Sweden more quickly, taking greater risks, and launching longer balls.
Andonovski’s experimentation was one of the main themes in the build-up to the Olympics. He implemented tactical tweaks to his game and made system changes that challenged his players to adjust to changing situations. We didn’t notice any adjustments that could have helped change the dynamics or reduced the momentum of Sweden when the U.S. team faced these situations against Sweden in the first match.
Substitution for head-scratching
Below, Sam Mewis was consistently among the USA’s top performers during the run-up to the Olympics. She was a star, but she still did enough on and off the field to be irreplaceable. Andonovski made the decision to lose 1-0 to Sweden by taking Alex Morgan and Mewis out of the game at halftime. Although neither team had a strong first half, Mewis had been through those dry spells in the past and finally broke free.
It was thought that Lindsey Horan was needed to keep Lindsey’s creativity at midfield because the U.S. played from behind. Mewis also contributes to attack through her speed, runs and ability to mix. Would have been fascinating to know what she would have done in a more positive second half of the USA’s history.
More: Women’s Olympic Soccer Standings and Results
The team was obviously without Julie Ertz
USA won the second match 2-0. This was due to Julie Ertz’s long-awaited inclusion into the match. Her return after a lengthy injury layoff was a huge game changer. Ertz’s play and quality improved the buildup of the midfield, with Sweden’s knifing attempts dissipating. Ertz’s replacement Horan is a good complement to Ertz, but she doesn’t perform the role in the same manner.
To start the match, Sweden challenged Horan and became overwhelming with her numbers. This begs the question: Was Ertz (below), fit enough for her to take part in a full match? Or was she able to sit for 60 to 70 minutes of the first half? Andonovski, in particular after Sweden’s loss to Sweden, will likely be asked many questions about herself in the coming days.
Many players cheated on games.
Or, better put: Some players had games in which their poor plays were more than the good. Crystal Dunn was too generous with giveaways, and Abby Dahlkemper displayed defensive weaknesses. To be fair, they were constantly under pressure from the Swedes who were often very hard-pressed and hard-charging.
Tobin Heath was not able to make an impact in attack. Alex Morgan failed to make good use of her one chance at a header. Christen Press appeared on the island for much of the first period. Her involvement picked up with better U.S. play.
More: Watch the complete Women’s Olympic Soccer Match & Schedule on TV
It is interesting to debate the selection of matchday players for Olympic soccer. Catarina (below), was among those who did not make it to the USA team against Sweden. Her exclusion was shocking.
It was unfathomable that Sweden led the match going into it. The No. It’s the No. 5 ranked team in the entire world, and it was already achieved by the Swedes during the April exhibition against the USA. Macario’s 1-on-1 playmaking skills and playmaking abilities are exceptional enough to be on the roster for such an eventuality, when the team often needs new ideas. She would have made an intriguing option in hindsight, but Kristie (Sam’s sibling) was chosen ahead. For the spot of bench midfielder, Macario will be taking on Mewis at these Olympics. One is the odd man out.
USWNT needs better competition
Already, the narrative has started to circulate about how this was the “wakeup” the USWNT needed in order to fall from its lofty highs of an unbeaten 44-match streak. While there’s truth in that statement, the USWNT did not develop superiority complexes over time.
The USWNT had to recall what it was like playing against elite opponents. The USA hasn’t had to play FIFA-ranked 5 top teams outside of official competition, and those teams pose entirely new problems. The USA has only played two FIFA-ranked top 5 teams in friendly matches since the conclusion of the 2019 World Cup (including Sweden in April), with the COVID-19 pandemic certainly playing a significant role.
It’s obvious that after the pandemic the American women’s soccer team must return to playing more often against Euro power — No. 2. Germany, No. France, No. 3 France, No. 5 Sweden, No. 6 England. Since the July 2019 World Cup final, they have only faced those two teams three times. The American soccer players should face problem teams often if they want to be successful in solving problems on the pitch.
Although the final result was poor and the apparent lack of control was not positive, it wasn’t the worst for the USA. Because of the way Sweden cut up America seemingly at will, it might seem worse. The USWNT created similar opportunities, and also hit the posts twice. This game is still the most important.
This could be the side effect of playing this game. Sweden proved that it is possible to hit all the U.S. defense seams and speed up, and the Americans can succumb. Megan Rapinoe, who was addressing the press after-game on two occasions pointed out that “they found a lot space on us.” The U.S. terrorists won’t be returning to defend these spaces in those short transitions.
Attack the USA? At the USA? Many of your opponents don’t bother, even the lower-ranked Olympic tuneups. The USWNT is aware that they lack the strength, athleticism and power to match their opponents. The few countries who do have the ability — which are the elite — may be more adventurous in the future. Just like Sweden.
Publication at Wed 21 July 2021 21.36:51 +0000