The United States Women’s National Team ended their pre-Olympic friendlies with a dominating 4-0 win over Costa Rica in Kansas City. Coach Jill Ellis believes she has put together a well-balanced roster that will bring the gold medal back to the United States for the second time in a row, and with good reason. Her side has looked unstoppable in the games prior to the Olympics, and she seems to have the perfect balance of veterans and youth.
Veteran goalkeeper Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC) will anchor the defense as she hopes to reach her 200th cap during the games. She may have a hard time not falling asleep as she plays behind the fortress that includes Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), and Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), all of whom were part of the 2015 World Cup team.
The midfield has its fair share of talent as well with players like Carli Loyd (Houston Dash), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), and Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC) giving the United States structure, control, and distribution throughout the pitch. Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC) has also been named to the roster, which would be an amazing return from an ACL surgery she underwent in December should she make it onto the field.
Finally, the United States has arguably the best attack in Women’s Soccer, as they are led by Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), and 18 year old Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado). Pugh leads the team in assists (7), is the second youngest woman Olympian in history, and is the only amateur listed on the roster. If she finds the net, she will become the youngest U.S. player to score in the Olympics.
The U.S. will look to capitalize on Pugh and Dunn’s ability to blow past the opposition and distribute the ball into the box. If they play as they did against Costa Rica, they will put high pressure on their opponents, and force mistakes which they will then capitalize on.
The U.S. is a team made of superstars that seem unstoppable at the moment. This will indeed make them their own worst enemy, but if they are able to carry out their game plan and not let the fact that they are the favorites work against them, they will most likely be victorious. They begin their Olympic campaign on Aug. 3rd against New Zealand (7 p.m. local/6 p.m. ET) at Mineirão Stadium in Belo Horizonte.