Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

[OPINION] Two Thirds Good and One Third Abysmal in the USWNT’s First Three Games of the Year

Natalie Schorr

The United States Women’s National Soccer Team’s (USWNT) Olympic year is off to a rocky start. With a 5-0 win against the Dominican Republic, a 4-0 victory against Argentina and an 0-2 loss to Mexico in the pool play of the CONCACAF W Gold Cup, the road to the 2024 Paris Olympics is not looking as bright as some fans may have hoped.

For anyone who may be thinking: “Two wins sounds pretty good! What do you mean their Olympic chances aren’t looking good?” We’ll get there. I promise.

The roster that was fielded for this tournament is extremely young. It is obvious that the USWNT is in a period of transition with many players retiring this last year. There are only 18 active player spots for an Olympic roster, so every possible option has to be explored. This also means that every starting lineup looked different in order to give all these players a chance. 

While this can be a good thing, it is also a little worrying that we are less than six months out from the Olympics with no solid starting line. Coupled with the fact that new head coach Emma Hayes won’t be officially taking over until her contract at Chelsea ends in May, things are looking rough for the team overall.

Even with roster uncertainties, I think the younger players have shown why they deserve their spots. In the win against the Dominican Republic, 18-year-old midfielder Olivia Moultrie scored her first two international goals, while 23-year-old defender Jenna Nighswonger earned her first international goal off a penalty kick. Both players have less than five caps for the USWNT. In their game against Argentina, 19-year-old forward Jaedyn Shaw shined, with two goals scored within eight minutes of each other. With these two goals, Shaw has scored four times in her six appearances for the USWNT.

Aside from the impressive showing of the USWNT rookies, the team performed pretty well on the pitch in their first two games. They certainly could have scored more goals, but both the Dominican Republic and Argentina were playing low block defenses to prevent just that.

The real glaring problems showed when they played Mexico.

The post-game analysis I watched on CBS’ Golazo Network summed it up best: Mexico wasn’t afraid of the USWNT anymore. This is where the crux of the issue for this team has been. 

Since the USWNT was formed back in 1985, they have consistently been one of the best women’s soccer teams in the world. They still are, but the rest of the women’s soccer world is catching up now. Teams aren’t afraid to face the powerhouse of the USWNT, and I don’t think the team has done a good job of adapting to that. This became most obvious when they failed to get past the first round of playoffs in the World Cup this past summer. 

Other than that, the team has looked disjointed for a while now. I thought that they did well in connecting and keeping the attack up in their first two games against the Dominican Republic and Argentina, but none of that could be said for the match against Mexico. Players kept making poor passes and losing possession, the attacking line refused to widen out and spread out Mexico’s defense and there was no midfield to speak of. 

Again, these are all issues that the USWNT has had for a while. It seemed that some of them had been solved, especially in the first game against the Dominican Republic, but I think I spoke too soon. I hope this can be a wake up call that things need to change in this team. It was almost sad to see how quickly they dissolved after Mexico scored their first goal in the first half. 

Honestly, props to Mexico for walking all over the U.S. and leaving their hearts out on the field. It was obvious that Mexico wanted it way more, and I am extremely disappointed in the showings from many of the players on that pitch for the rest of the game.

There’s still the knockout round of this tournament to go. The USWNT now has the chance to regroup and fix their mistakes for the rest of their games. I would love to see improvements, as the USWNT was fun to watch again in their first two games, but agonizing to watch when they let themselves get trampled by Mexico.

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Natalie Schorr, Social Media Manager

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