The United States women’s team has something to prove at the Tokyo Olympics.
The United States would be looking to become the first team ever to win an Olympic event and a World Cup in a row.
Meanwhile, for US’ rivals, Chile, and its exceptional goalkeeper, Christiane Endler, this is a historic moment:
This will be the first time Chile women’s team play in an Olympic tournament, since they were removed from the FIFA rankings for lack of games. Two years ago, Chile also resurfaced to qualify for the 2019 World Cup in France, where they clinched a victory over Thailand, and faced big teams such as the United States and Sweden.
“This is the award for our hard work for so many years,” said Endler, named by many as the best goalkeeper in the world (last season, she only conceded four goals and was crowned champion with Paris Saint-Germain, ending Lyon’s 14-year reign in the French league).
“The Olympic Games is everyone’s dream. It may be the most important moment of our careers.”
In Tokyo, the USA will play their first major tournament under coach Vlatko Andonovski, who succeed Jill Ellis as USA manager after the 2019 World Cup at France. The Americans has a well-balanced roster of players, with talent to spare on all lines, and with several of the greatest players in women’s football:
Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Christen Press, Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd….
The 2019 French champions come to the Olympics in first spot of the FIFA rankings, and are unbeaten in their last 44 matches; the second longest unbeaten streak in their history.
But the Olympic jousting can be treacherous, with a tighter schedule and hot and humid summer conditions in Japan.
Andonovski emphasized versatility in his squad. He also focused on experience, with an average age of 30.8 years. Seventeen of the eighteen players selected were in the last squad, the one who won the 2019 World Cup.
The United States will play in Group G and will debut against their nemesis, Sweden, in Tokyo, on July 21st. In Rio 2016 Olympic games, Sweden knocked out the Americans in the quarter-finals (4-3 in penalties).
That Swedish team was coached by Pia Sundhage, who previously managed the United States, between 2008/12. Now, Sundhage is the coach of Brazil; while, Peter Gerhardsson became the new Sweden’s national women team coach.
Knowing this, Brazil will surely be a problem on the US’ dream of becoming the first team ever to win an Olympic event and a World Cup in a row.
The Brazilians have also a wealth of experience in their squad: Marta, the five-time winner of the FIFA best player award, continues to be the Canarinhas benchmark, while Miraildes Maciel Mota, commonly known as Formiga, has played a record number of six Olympic Games.
To conclude, twelve teams will compete this summer, and they will be divided into three groups. Group E is composed by Japan, England, Canada and Chile; while Group F has China, Brazil, Zambia, and Holland. Finally, the US Women’s National Team will face the likes of Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand on Group H.
All teams will play in six cities across Japan, and the final will take place on August 6th, at the Tokyo National Stadium.
Women’s football debuted at the Games in 1996, and so far, the United States has won four gold medals and has always reached the final except in 2016; will they be able to reach their goal, or on the contrary, will another team find the Olympic glory?