The two sports teams that US fans had pinned hopes on for Olympic Gold have been much maligned in recent times, but even so, the US Men’s Basketball team have qualified to take on France in the gold medal game on Friday.
And yesterday, the USWNT earned bronze in the women’s soccer tournament after they defeated Australia 4-3 in a dramatic game that saw plenty of goals at both ends of the field.
It was the US team’s second victory in the tournament (not including their penalty victory over the Netherlands) but it was still enough for them to claim a medal at the games and ensure that the team comes home with a little extra luggage to pack.
However, the enquiry into why the team didn’t reach the heights that they did when winning the World Cup back in 2019 has already started and many are questioning whether a bronze medal is enough for a team that, on its day, remains comfortably the best in the world.
— Olympics (@Olympics) August 5, 2021
Rapinoe And Lloyd Put Aussies To Sword
In an exciting first half, Megan Rapinoe was in deadly form for the United States. After just eight minutes Rapinoe curled in a fantastic corner, which the Australian keeper Micah missed to put the United States in front.
Incredibly, there has only been one other goal scored from a corner in the Olympics, and that was also by Megan Rapinoe back at the 2012 games.
Australia levelled on 17 minutes through Kerr, but then Rapinoe scored one of the goals of the tournament. The U.S. captain capitalised on a misplaced clearance to strike a superb volley to regain the lead for the United States.
Then just on half time, Carli Lloyd grabbed her 9th goal of in the Olympics with a fantastic left foot drilled finish into the far corner to put the USA in control.
Lloyd then passed Abbi Wambach’s 9-goal record in the Olympics by scoring a 10th in the second half to make it 4-1 and though Australia did pull two goals back, including an absolute scorching long-distance strike from Gielnik in the final minute, the USA hung on to claim victory.
Sweden will take on Canada in the gold medal match on Friday to decide who wins the tournament.
On social media, while the U.S. victory was welcomed by many, the inquest into why the team didn’t land gold has been unfolding, with a large portion of the blame being attributed to the tactics of team head coach Vlatko Andonovski.
His rotation of players, especially in attack, has been viewed by many as unsettling the team and not allowing the team to get into their usual groove for the games at the Olympics. But in his defence, this United States squad is very much in transition from the team that won the 2019 World Cup.
Given that of their six strikers, the youngest was 28 and five of those players were aged 32 or more, it is perhaps understandable as to why the coach would feel his team needed to rotate in those advanced positions.
It’s a similar issue in defence where six of the seven defenders are aged 27 or older, with three stares aged over 30. In fact, the entire US squad for the tournament had just two players under the age of 26.
It remains to be seen whether this is a transition point for the USWNT. There is still so much talent available but when the next World Cup rolls around in 2023, many of this squad are going to be hitting their mid thirties and at the moment, the talent coming through to replace them does not appear to be there.
Today’s win vs. Australia in the #Tokyo2020 bronze medal game makes the USWNT trophy case look like this:
World Cup: 🏆🏆🏆🏆
— Al Butler (@ALaboutSports) August 5, 2021
Make no mistake, this has been a hugely successful period for the USWNT but could it be the end of an era? Or the start of a new one?
Only time will tell.