July 27, (THEWILL) – After losing one and winning another, the U.S. women’s national soccer team completed the group stages of their Olympics football event in a goalless stalemate against Australia on Tuesday. The draw was enough to secure passage into the quarter-finals stage but with worrying notions of their capacity to reach for gold.
The performance of the FIFA World Cup champions has not reached the high standards expected of the highest ranked female football team in the world and the USWNT had fallen short of the display their own pre-Olympics preparation assured them of.
THEWILL recalls that the American ladies played six international friendlies between April and July (against countries like France, Portugal, Jamaica, Nigeria and Mexico) leading up to the Olympics. They won each and every one, scoring 17 goals without conceding even once in all.
But they were shocked by a thorough beating in their first game against Sweden in the Olympics opener which was beyond the stunning 3-0 result that ended their streak of unbeaten runs that stood at 44 games, because it revealed a multitude of defensive, midfield and attacking issues and an aging side that experience alone could not help.
Although the USWNT eliminated most of the concerns of that opener with an immediate bounce-back to get their gold target back on track with a 6-1 demolition of New Zealand in the second game of Group G, their final low-energy draw against Australia is worrying and does not inspire the type of confidence they will need to reach gold.
They might have taken control of the match in the second period as much of the final 30 minutes was contested in Australia’s half but a lame draw was all they could accomplish with all that much pressing. The attack of the USWNT therefore finished another game without finding a goal to celebrate. The second time it is happening in three matches.
Were they a bit more sloppy and Australian star Sam Kerr would have done enough damage to give the victory to the Aussies and possibly condemn the USWNT to a probable position of making it to the next stage of the football competition at the Games. And, that would have been the very definition of a meteoric nosedive.
Instead, as they kept the fixture goalless throughout, the USWNT squeezed through to the quarter-finals on the strength of their plus-3 goal differential, built mainly on those crucial their three goals in the waning minutes against New Zealand in the second game.
It offers the Vlatko Andonovski-led team one final chance to steady the ship of their Olympic dream of becoming the first team to win gold after becoming world champions, as it offers them the opportunity to stay the course and regain some of that aura of invincibility to progress beyond the quarter-finals and keep their dreams alive.