(CBS Native)- America Ladies’s Nationwide Staff (USWNT) kicks off its quest for the Olympic gold medal within the early morning hours of Wednesday when the workforce takes on Sweden in group stage play at 4:30 a.m. Jap Time. The U.S. enters the event as heavy favorites and Vlatko Andonovski’s workforce is hoping to avenge its fifth place end result from Rio in 2016.
The USWNT has gone unbeaten in 44 straight matches however CBSSports.com soccer author and host of the Attacking Third podcast, Sandra Herrera, says the U.S. efficiency of their final 5-10 video games has been significantly spectacular answering among the questions folks had concerning the workforce.
“This can be a workforce led by head coach Vlatko Andonovski that needed to see sure issues come to mild forward of this Olympic Video games and we began to see that once they began getting again into camps and getting again into worldwide friendlies as a result of plenty of these gamers needed to take care of sure issues amid the continued coronavirus pandemic,” Herrera mentioned in an interview with CBS Native’s Ryan Mayer. “Coming away with all of those wins and all of those outcomes, they have been getting some questions answered. A participant like Tobin Heath who had been injured, an integral a part of this assault. Was she going to be match? Was she going to be prepared in time for the Olympics? Right here she comes within the last two matches, lighting issues up and letting all people know she has returned. There’s plenty of strengths throughout this 22 participant roster. They’re the workforce to compete towards in these Summer time Video games.”
There are a lot of familiar faces on this Olympic squad from each the 2019 World Cup profitable workforce and the Rio 2016 Olympic workforce, so followers could have loads of recognizable names to cheer for. One which Herrera thinks might turn out to be extra of a family identify on this event as a current returnee to nationwide workforce play is Kristie Mewis.
“She hasn’t been concerned with the nationwide workforce for the final six years. She actually performed her method again into this stage off of the again of spectacular membership play,” Herrera mentioned. “We’re speaking membership play with the Houston Sprint of the NWSL the place they went on to win the 2020 Problem Cup last. Spectacular within the midfield, was an enormous piece of that workforce, integral in that championship last. She’s a participant that would potential have an effect on this Olympics.”
Whereas most of the questions have been answered and the U.S. enters with clear strengths at each stage of the sector, Herrera factors to the again line as an space that opponents might look to take advantage of in the event that they’re searching for weaknesses.
“When you’re seeking to attempt to discover somebody, it’s so exhausting however in the event you’re the opposition, you’re trying perhaps at that again line. Crystal Dunn is kind of frankly one in all their higher defenders. She’s an attacking exterior again, she has the flexibility to cowl plenty of house out on the flank,” Herrera mentioned. “However, whenever you’re trying on the heart again duo or perhaps the veteran exterior again in Kelley O’Hara, there could be some seems from the opposition the place they are saying, ‘hey, there’s perhaps somewhat little bit of lack of pace, perhaps an absence of tempo, perhaps we will attempt to expose these areas.’ However, we’ll see. They’re going to need to catch these defenders on an actual off day.”
All that mentioned, the U.S. as Herrera famous, is the workforce to beat coming into the event. The group stage will see them face Sweden, New Zealand and Australia and it’s the Swedes that Herrera factors to as the largest risk to a U.S. medal.
“Fingers down it’s completely Sweden. They’ve been a rival of the USWNT for a few years,” Herrera mentioned. “There’s plenty of historical past there between these two sides. Their video games have all the time been very tense, shut, tightly contested matches and we’re in all probability going to see one thing just like begin off this group stage. If I’m the USWNT, I’m taking a look at this and embracing it for the problem that it’s as a result of these two groups are going to be kicking off their Olympic journeys going head-to-head in that very first group match. It’s in all probability going to inform us so much about how that group shakes out.”
Right here is the USWNT’s full group stage schedule together with the channel you may catch them on.
Wednesday, July 21 vs. Sweden 4:30 a.m. EDT (USA Community)
Saturday, July 24 vs. New Zealand 7:30 a.m. EDT (NBC Sports activities Community)
Tuesday, July 27 vs. Australia 4:00 a.m. EDT (USA Community)