The tremors from the US Women’s National Team being sent packing at the Olympics are still being felt in the farthest reaches of the soccer world. A team that hasn’t looked at its best, but a team that is still seen as the dominant force throughout the sport. Yet, without even making it into medal contention, a team that will be enjoying the rest of Rio on the sidelines. Hey, at least they probably get in free to watch Phelps and team USA basketball…so, not all bad?
Although we aren’t simply going to focus on the bonus of having free time to enjoy Rio and the other Olympic events, we here at TCC think that the USWNT’s quick exit at this tournament is going to be a massive positive going forward for this group.
One of the first big things is going to be that the hunger has been reinvigorated. The USWNT was about to accomplish, what felt to many, like the last big accomplishment this team could achieve. The World Cup/Olympic Gold double is a dream that has eluded the World Champions, and will continue to be an unfulfilled dream. Although to us mere mortals, this type of goal could seem ridiculous. For the USWNT players, and anyone that has followed their demeanor and love for the game over the last few years, the love of this game’s history is a huge part of their play. Each player knows players, squads, and moments that inspired them from within the women’s game, so knowing that nobody has pulled off the “golden double” is something that looms large in the minds of the USWNT.
The desire won’t only be for the “golden double,” but to reassert themselves as the best in the world. Nobody can take the World Cup victory away from them, but the Olympics is the biggest gauge of where the teams are in between WWC’s. Until the players of the USWNT see themselves back atop the mountain of international soccer, the fervor won’t stop. This will ensure that players that could easily take their foot off the gas in terms of training and focus because of the stage of their career they are currently in. Alex Morgan, Heath, Johnston, and others will now have a goal to achieve, motivation to use, and something to bring them all even closer together.
Another big “win” from their loss is the simple truth that the door has been opened to let Hope Solo ride off into the sunset without a massive outcry. Solo has set records where nobody will reach them. Solo has cemented her legacy as one of the best keepers of all-time. Hope Solo has nothing left to prove, and the USWNT has nothing left to gain by keeping their current #1. Add in that she had to go and say all that “coward” stuff, and it’s time to cut her loose. The next generation of USWNT players are starting to show themselves (Dunn, Horan, Pugh, Press), and it’s time to have a keeper that will be along with them until long after the next WWC. Don’t get us wrong, Solo is a massive reason for the USWNT’s recent success. It’s simply just time to move on and finally give somebody else a chance. Plus, it would be nice to avoid one of your most high profile players having a penchant for creating fairly negative news headlines.
The game that the USWNT lost is going to be one of the biggest blessings of all. This is a strategy that the USWNT will see 95% of the time as they move forward. Learning how to beat it will allow them to return to past glories. It’s going to be okay, folks.
While the world is going to continue closing the gap on the USWNT, the USWNT is still in a bit of a transformation themselves. We’re only beginning to see what happens when we shift from merely being the strongest athletically on the pitch (how the USWNT won from the 90s until 2012) to also being extremely strong technically. There’s still potential to improve, and the recent loss might be the best way to do it. Every cloud has a silver lining…sadly, there’s not silver or bronze in this cloud…but, it will inevitably mean more gold in the future of the USWNT.