The USWNT had an uneven performance against Sweden yesterday and was lucky to salvage a 1-1 draw against the Scandinavians. In a game that celebrated Carli Lloyd’s incredible 300th cap for the national team, the Americans had difficulty establishing an effective attack and Sweden had the better chances in the match. It was just a friendly, but probably brought back more than one uncomfortable memory from the Olympics in 2016. This is obviously a different team with a new manager, but aside from the midfield, the US looked fallible in the game.
After a successful run in the She Believes Cup, this certainly showed the team has work to do against tougher competition. The 2019 World Cup was one of the most dominant performances in sports, the team looked unbeatable and rather easily brushed aside the opposition. This was happening amid off-field drama and the players having a generally antagonistic relationship with the manager. Going into the Olympics, things look more tranquil.
Any number of factors can motivate a team and when competitive matches come around, the USWNT has shown it can flip a switch that does not accept losing as an option. Still, the off field narratives that seemed to fuel the team in 2019 have faded and a the side will need to discover a new will to win. The fact that many of these players were on the field in 2016 and became the first USWNT side to fail to medal in the Olympics should be a good start, but finding that competitive drive will be key this summer if they want redemption.