The 2020 Olympics are finally here! The Summer Games kick off with the women’s football tournament, with 12 teams in search of a gold medal. The favorites just happen to be the United States Women’s National Team, the #1 team in the world and the 2-time defending World Cup champions. However, they want the gold medal that eluded them in 2016, and to achieve it, they have to first outlast the toughest group in the women’s tournament.
Their first match is against the team who ended the USWNT’s Olympic run in the quarterfinals in 2016, Sweden. Sweden has played the USWNT tough every single time they face, including most recently in April when the teams battled to a 1-1 draw. Sweden is the only team to score a goal on the USWNT since March 2020, and they want to open up this tournament with a big win. They’re no strangers to big matches. They are the defending silver medalists from Rio 2016, and they finished 3rd at the 2019 World Cup. They have star power at several positions and they don’t back down from anyone. That makes this opening match an incredible one.
The Olympic roster for the USWNT:
DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Catarina Macario (Lyon), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage)
FORWARDS (6): Tobin Heath (Unattached), Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Unattached), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)
What To Watch For
Will we see Julie Ertz? Julie Ertz’s injury is the biggest question looming over the USWNT. If she’s ready to go, it makes the rotations for Vlatko Andonovski way more straight forward. There’s the likelihood that Ertz is not ready to go for 90 minutes just yet, so you could see Lindsey Horan occupy that role instead.
Win the midfield. The last time these two teams met, the match was a physical one in the middle. Notably, Rose Lavelle caused Sweden’s Kosovare Asllani to foul her several times, with our midfielders dishing out some punishment as well. If the USWNT are going to win this match, it will be because the midfield was better on the day than Sweden, controlling the pace and dictating the flow of the game.
Continue to take shots, but get them on target. The USWNT normally like to pelt tons of shots at an opposing goalkeeper. Against Sweden back in April, they took 20 shots to Sweden’s 9. However, only 6 were on target. Get more of the shots on frame, and it will not only force Sweden’s keeper to be great, it will also force rebounds. And there are plenty of American stars who should be ready to pounce on those and get them in the back of the net.
The last time the USWNT entered a big tournament with questions hanging over their heads, they made a statement to the world with a 13-0 victory over Thailand. This won’t be a statement that massive, but a 2-0 win over Sweden will send a message to the rest of the field that the champs are here and they’re the team to beat.