The USA girls’s nationwide workforce hasn’t misplaced beneath its new coach, however continues to be searching for a primary main trophy — no offense, SheBelieves Cup — for Vlatko Andonovski.
It’s additionally searching for redemption on the OIympic stage after failing to medal for the primary time In its historical past when it exited on the quarterfinal stage in Brazil.
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However all-in-all, these 18 gamers are very skilled World Cup collectors who’re used to residing beneath a microscope on the worldwide degree, the place successful with out fashion will get a finger wag and so does consuming invisible eta in celebration.
What can we count on from the ladies in Tokyo? Nicely, quite a bit.
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The back-to-back World Cup champs — No. 1 on the earth — have one thing to show in Tokyo
Vlatko Andonovski’s first 23 matches answerable for the ladies have been phenomenal, with one draw and 22 wins and an ongoing 502-minute clear sheet streak.
Throw within the Yanks’ standing because the winner of the final two World Cups, and also you’d suppose this workforce can be cruising into the match as pure favorites.
And possibly that’s true. Nicely, it’s virtually definitely true.
However the USWNT’s greatest failure up to now three a long time got here on the Rio Olympics, the place a disjointed workforce received Group G however completed the group stage with a 2-2 draw in opposition to Colombia.
The poor play lingered into the quarterfinals, the place Alex Morgan wanted a 77th-minute equalizer to pressure further time in opposition to Sweden after which misplaced in penalties.
That meant no semifinal, which meant a gold medal recreation with out the USWNT for the primary time ever. And it meant that the Yanks didn’t medal for the primary time regardless of accumulating 4 golds and a silver between 1996-2012.
So there are a selection of the nation’s greats nonetheless awaiting a primary Olympic medal, together with Julie Ertz, Alyssa Naeher, Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn, and Rose Lavelle. Count on starvation.
Dominance over the sector
The USA girls’s nationwide workforce has been a controlling pressure within the recreation for a very long time, ranked first or second on the earth for yearly since 2003.
And since reclaiming first within the FIFA Rankings in 2008, the Yanks have solely dipped into second place twice and solely completed a single 12 months exterior of the highest spot.
In fact, each workforce would like to be the one to knock the U.S. from its perch, however Germany, France, and the Netherlands sit 2nd, third, and 4th and need the prospect to claim themselves as a No. 1 contender. Solely the Netherlands made this match.
However because the Ladies’s Tremendous League in England has introduced USWNT stars to its soil and made claims about itself as a league compared to the Nationwide Ladies’s Soccer League, you’ll be able to ensure that the U.S. received’t merely be measured by successful however by how they win.
As famous above, the USWNT has solely completed exterior the semifinal stage as soon as between eight World Cups and 6 Olympics. Absolutely Andonovski might be gunning to make 2016 a blip.
Talking of Vlatko and one other “new” face
You’d suppose that successful 22 of 23 matches and drawing the outlier — in opposition to an excellent Sweden, no much less — would have Vlatko Andonovski on hallowed floor.
However the revered former FC Kansas Metropolis and Seattle Reign (now OL Reign) boss has solely a pair of SheBelieves Cups on his resume with the USWNT (troublesome however U.S. hosted tourneys that they’re) and might be simply as hungry as any of his gamers to place a stamp on their tenure collectively.
Now this 18-player roster might look loads acquainted with your Rapinoes and your Morgans and your Sauerbrunns, however right here’s a participant vying to have a breakout couple of weeks on the worldwide stage: Catarina Macario.
The 21-year-old Lyon star has been a pressure wherever she’s performed and the Brazilian-born Stanford product will enter the match with the fewest appearances of any non-field participant with the USWNT (seven).
Except for Macario and backup goalkeepers Adrianna Franch (six caps) and Jane Campbell (5), each participant has appeared no less than a couple-dozen instances for the U.S. together with a exceptional 9 gamers with over 100 caps.
A number of USWNT gamers can cross hallowed names in this system report books, and a few of these doing the passing are already fairly properly hallowed themselves.
Carli Lloyd is 5 appearances from matching Christie Pearce (Rampone) for second all-time (311).
Megan Rapinoe is three assists off of Abby Wambach’s 255, which places the massive striker Ithird all-time.
They’ll be focused… from all sides
Whereas the Olympics usually present a gathering floor for residents of all beliefs to return collectively in assist of their nationwide friends, the USWNT’s lightning-rod standing and megawatt personalities have led some to be extraordinarily important of the workforce.
Look no additional than Monday night time’s defeat of Mexico, as a political website accused some gamers of “turning away” from a World Conflict II veteran enjoying the nationwide anthem on harmonica, a notion that produced loads of noise and compelled the U.S. Soccer Federation’s communications workforce into debunking faux information somewhat than informing the fan base.
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5 issues to know concerning the USWNT earlier than the Olympics in Tokyo initially appeared on NBCSports.com