Written by Alyssa Rice
The crowd roars as forward Tobin Heath advances up the right sideline with the ball at her feet. Seconds after an awe-inspiring display of technical skill, Heath rips the ball across the face of the goal where striker Carli Lloyd rises above her defender and smashes the ball into the back of the net. Goal United States!
1985 marked the beginning of the United States Women’s National Team, and the team won their first Olympic Gold medal in 1996. They won gold three more times in 2004, 2008 and 2012. The team has also won four World Cups in 1991, 1999, 2015 and 2019. Currently, the USWNT has qualified for the Olympics and is training hard in preparation.
The USWNT has had an impressive streak of success, winning two consecutive World Cups, only the second nation to accomplish this feat. No team has ever won Olympic Gold the year after winning the World Cup, but with their impressive skill and tactical knowledge the USWNT has the ability to win the World Cup and Olympic gold back-to-back.
In late October 2019, Vlatko Andonovski replaced Jill Ellis as the USWNT head coach after Ellis stepped down following the World Cup. The Andonovski era has brought in new perspectives and tactics to the women’s game, and the era has begun with five wins, the first an impressive victory over No. 5 Sweden.
Out of the 20 players on the qualifying roster, 18 were part of the 2019 World Cup roster. These returning players will offer experience, skill and guidance as the USWNT prepares for the Olympics. These 18 are the top players in the United States and include long time veterans that have been crucial to the team’s success.
Besides the returning veterans, the qualifying roster includes rising stars forward Lynn Williams and midfielder Andi Sullivan. Williams has scored three times in qualifying, once each against Haiti, Panama and Canada, and she has become a dominant force in the attack. Sullivan has remained a rock in the midfield as qualifying has progressed and effectively builds up the attack with a variety of passes both out wide and ahead to the forwards. She already has two assists and will surely remain a crucial player for this squad.
Some people may believe that with the rise in successful European National teams the USWNT does not have a chance at winning; however, the United States has already beat No. 4 France, No. 6 England and No. 3 Netherlands, some of the top teams in Europe, during the World Cup proving they can beat the European teams.
Following the Olympic qualifying tournament is the SheBelives Cup in March and then the Olympics in July and August. Fox Sports Plus and FS1 stream most USWNT games live and televise reruns in the days following the game.
The USWNT may have a long road ahead of them, but with their skill, tactics and perseverance the team has the skill to win the 2020 Olympics.