The United States women’s football team’s underwhelming Olympics continued today with a goalless draw against Australia.
The result was enough for the US to qualify for the quarter-finals but it was the second time in three games Vlatko Andonovski’s side have failed to score in this tournament.
What is going wrong for the back-to-back world champions though? And do they still have a realistic chance of winning silverware at this year’s Games?
Where is it going wrong?
On the face of it, the US still have a plethora of superstar names in their ranks and the majority of the squad are World Cup winners.
Carli Lloyd has over 300 appearances for the national side now. Alex Morgan, Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe all have more than 150. But this experience only counts for so much and it’s beginning to look as though some of these renowned figures are past their imperious best.
Andonovski has opted to stick with what has worked for so long. Before this tournament, the US last lost an international fixture in January 2019, and while this may suggest there was every reason to persist with the same core group, the reality is they should’ve picked on form.
Catarina Macario emerged as a standout player at the end of last season for Lyon. Yet, the 21-year-old has been restricted to just seven minutes so far in this tournament. Equally, the likes of Margaret Purce –– arguably the best player in the National Women’s Soccer League this year, was left out of the squad entirely.
Having been drawn in the toughest group at this year’s Olympics, the cracks are now beginning to show. The US may still be good, but as proven, they are nowhere near the level required to beat a Sweden side that is undefeated in 15 matches, or an Australia team boasting Sam Kerr up front.
Do they still have a medal chance?
It would be silly to write off the US entirely. Realistically, they are still one of the best sides in the competition and boast arguably the best squad of any nation aside from the Netherlands and Sweden.
However, it’s the Netherlands who will be their quarter-final opponents and given the Dutch’s attacking options –– including Vivianne Miedema, Lieke Martens and Lineth Beerensteyn to name just a few –– Andonovski’s side no doubt enter the game as underdogs.
That being said, the US are still technically one game away from challenging for at least a bronze medal and so many members of the team have a wealth of experience when it comes to knockout football.
Sometimes in tournaments, you don’t always have to win convincingly or even in normal time –– you simply need to not lose and the US have a habit of not losing many.
So they could go on to win a medal still –– perhaps even silver or better still, gold. But even if they do, this competition has been a wake-up call. The old guard have had their time. Now the new stars need a chance to flourish.