Losing a tournament to a powerful host nation via tiebreakers is normally not much to be concerned about, but the United States women’s national team is a week away from a World Cup year and goshdarnit if some aren’t hitting the panic button.
The Yanks tied Brazil 0-0 on Sunday in the championship match of the International Tournament of Brasilia after going 1-1-1 in group play. The USWNT went to the final instead of China on goal differential (the two sides drew 1-1, while both beat Argentina and lost to Brazil).
And after dropping to No. 2 in the FIFA rankings for the first time in more than a half-decade, some online souls are growing more worried about head coach Jill Ellis’ USWNT’s chances next summer in a very difficult World Cup group with Sweden, Australia and Nigeria.
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So should you be concerned?
That’s a bit of a trick question. If you weren’t concerned before this tournament, then no. Nothing should’ve changed in your mind. The fields were sloppy — a game was even postponed — and the States played two games in Brazil against Brazil, coming away with a 3-2 deficit on aggregate. Their 1-1 draw against China shouldn’t scare you, either, as the States handled the same Chinese team twice this summer in North America.
However, if you had been worried about the USWNT heading into the tournament, you’re likely feeling a bit validated by the 1-1-2 record. You’re questioning the play of Hope Solo and the age of still-key cogs Christie Rampone (39), Abby Wambach (34) and Carli Lloyd (32). You’re worried about Alex Morgan’s recovery from injury and how this squad will fare against former coach Pia Sundhage.
On the age point, Lloyd and Wambach have scored 12 of the team’s last 19 goals… which is a pretty good sign, so if anything, wonder what happens when those three are done (The answer? Probably Christen Press, Morgan Brian and a healthy Morgan).
All-in-all, though, the Yanks just lost their first game since March 10 after mostly cruising through World Cup qualifying. They have a pair of tricky European games against France and England in February before playing their sport’s biggest tournament on their home continent this summer. And with many other countries opening up their minds to developing women’s soccer since the States just beat on nearly everyone who showed up on their doorstep, the days of constant 7-0 wins are over anyway.
Here’s to a fun summer.