By U.S. girls’s nationwide group requirements, a 3-0 loss in a significant competitors is borderline embarrassing. Not solely has the USA by no means lost by that margin at the Olympics, however the considering is that it ought to by no means occur to the No. 1-ranked group in the world, match favorites and defending World Cup champs, who occur to be on a roll of 44 video games unbeaten. It’s induced consternation in the fan base.
The 3-0 defeat to No. 5-ranked Sweden was not good, however it was additionally an anomaly and a product of a number of elements that every one contributed to the heaviest USWNT defeat in 14 years.
New coach in his first big match
The broadcasters have been clamoring for it and also you have been in all probability shouting the identical factor at your screens: “Can the U.S. hold the ball? Can anyone keep it?” It was the viewer’s pure response to what was occurring in the sport: The USA speeding ahead in assault, promptly coughing it up, and Sweden coming proper again down their throats the different means. The sample repeated itself over and over. It might have been productive for Sweden, however it was stretching the USA aside and the Americans desperately wanted to cease the cycle.
Granted, it was head coach Vlatko Andonovski’s first look in a significant match. Perhaps he was reluctant to alter up some issues solely 15-20 minutes into that first sport in response to some adversity. Still, it was fascinating that none of the gamers felt the must strive to carry calm to the sport, handle the scenario and provides the group an opportunity to cool down. As the minutes glided by, it was as if the USA was rising more and more impatient, working at Sweden sooner, launching extra lengthy balls and taking extra dangers in the assault.
One of the themes of the lead-up to the Olympics was Andonovski’s experiments: his implementation of in-game tactical tweaks and system adjustments to problem his gamers to adapt to conditions on the fly. The U.S. gamers and training workers confronted a kind of conditions in the first half against Sweden, and we didn’t see any seen adjustment that helped to alter the dynamic or gradual Sweden’s momentum.
Sam Mewis (under) was constantly one among the prime three performers for the USA throughout the lead-up to the Olympics. Even when she wasn’t starring, she at all times did sufficient on the subject to make her irreplaceable. But the first adjustment that Andonovski opted to make down 1-0 to Sweden was taking her and Alex Morgan out at halftime. Neither had an important first half, however Mewis has had these barren spells earlier than and ultimately breaks out of them.
The considering was in all probability that conserving Lindsey Horan’s creativity in midfield was crucial since the U.S. was taking part in from behind. But Mewis contributes to the assault in different methods along with her work price, her runs and her means to mix. It would’ve been fascinating to see what she might’ve performed throughout what was a greater second half for the USA.
Obviously, the group missed Julie Ertz
The motive the USA was higher in the second half was the long-awaited insertion of Julie Ertz into the match. We witnessed simply how a lot of a game-changer she could be in her return from the harm layoff. The knifing assaults by Sweden dissipated — fewer situations of waves upon waves of Swedish assaults — and Ertz’s high quality raised the midfield’s buildup play. And that’s not essentially a criticism of her substitute Horan, who enhances Ertz nicely, however doesn’t play the place in the identical means.
Sweden boxed up Horan to start out the match and overwhelmed her with numbers in that first half. It begs this query: If Ertz (under) was match sufficient to play for a full half, was she match sufficient to start out the sport and maybe go for 60-70 minutes? Andonovski will likely be quizzed about her loads in the days to return, particularly in gentle of the subsequent two matches taking over even larger significance after the Sweden loss.
Too many gamers had off video games
Better put: There have been gamers who had a sport wherein their unhealthy performs outnumbered the good ones. Crystal Dunn had too many giveaways and Abby Dahlkemper had defensive lapses; to be honest they have been put underneath fixed stress by the hard-charging and sometimes hard-pressing Swedes they usually have been not often comfy.
In assault, Tobin Heath didn’t make an affect, Alex Morgan didn’t make a very good play on the one header probability she had, and Christen Press appeared to be on an island for lengthy stretches of the first half, along with her involvement choosing up in the second half with the improved U.S. play.
Given that Olympic soccer coaches have to pick an 18-player matchday roster from the 22 obtainable gamers, it makes for fascinating debate who sits out these video games. Catarina Macario (under) was a kind of gamers who didn’t make the lower for the USA squad against Sweden and her exclusion was stunning.
Entering the match, it was not unfathomable to see Sweden taking the lead in the sport. It’s the No. 5-ranked group in the world and the Swedes already did it throughout April’s exhibition against the USA. Macario’s playmaking means and 1-on-1 expertise are particular sufficient to have deserved a spot on the roster in that eventuality when the group is usually in want of concepts. In hindsight she would’ve made for an fascinating possibility, however Kristie Mewis (Sam’s sister) was chosen forward of her. At these Olympics, it’s Macario vs. Mewis for the back-up midfielder spot on the bench. The different is the odd participant out.
USWNT want higher competitors
The narrative is already making the rounds about this being the “wakeup call” that the USWNT wanted to carry it down from the lofty heights of a 44-match unbeaten streak. And whereas there’s fact to that, it is not due to any superiority complexes which may have developed over time.
It’s extra that the USWNT wanted to recollect what it was prefer to play against an elite opponent. It hasn’t performed FIFA-ranked prime 5 groups all that always outdoors official competitors and as we noticed with Sweden, these groups current solely completely different issues to unravel. Since the finish of the 2019 World Cup, the USA has performed a grand whole of two of them in pleasant matches (together with Sweden in April, a 1-1 street draw), and the COVID-19 pandemic certainly performed no small function in that.
Post-pandemic, it’s clear that the American girls’s group must get again to extra frequent matches against the Euro powers — No. 2 Germany, No. 3 France, No. 4 Netherlands, No. 5 Sweden, No. 6 England. They solely performed these groups 3 times since that July 2019 World Cup remaining. If soccer taking part in can also be problem-solving on the subject, the American gamers must face the drawback groups extra usually.
The remaining consequence was unhealthy and the seeming lack of composure was not a constructive, however it was not the worst efficiency for the USA. It may really feel worse than it truly was due to how dangerously efficient Sweden was at slicing up the USA, seemingly at will. But the USWNT additionally created an analogous variety of alternatives and hit the put up twice. Still, this sport will go down as the one Sweden dominated.
And that may be the byproduct of this sport. Sweden confirmed that for those who can hit the seams of the U.S. protection and do it at pace and with numbers, even the Americans will succumb: They could be pulled out of place and stretched each which means. “They found a lot of space on us,” Megan Rapinoe identified on two separate events throughout the postgame presser. And the U.S. attackers don’t make it again to assist defend these areas throughout these fast transitions.
Attack the area? Attack the USA? Many opponents, together with the low-ranking Olympic tuneup selection, don’t even trouble. They know they don’t have the athleticism, energy, pace and energy to maintain up with the USWNT. But the handful of nations that do — and they’re all amongst the elite — may attempt to be somewhat extra daring in the close to future. Just like Sweden.