Friday, June 22, 2012

Meanwhile, USWNT Keeps Winning

Article by Leanne Elston
Follow Leanne on twitter @LeanneElston

After breezing through Olympic qualifying earlier this year, the USWNT has been preparing for the summer’s tournament with a steady schedule of competitive and friendly matches. The team has notched just one loss in fifteen games this year; they fell 1-0 to World Cup champions Japan in March. The team has also logged only one draw -- 1-1, again against Japan. Otherwise, the USWNT is on a hot streak of wins, with three convincing victories in their last three matches.

On May 27th, the USWNT beat China 4-1 in front of a sold-out crowd at PPL Park in Philadelphia. After going behind early, the US came back with two goals from Alex Morgan and one from Abby Wambach, with a China own goal helping out as well.

Following that match, the USWNT traveled to Sweden. First, they defeated Sweden 3-1 on June 16th with goals from Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, and Tobin Heath. Two days later, the opponent was Japan yet again, only this time the USWNT came away with a convincing 4-1 victory thanks to braces from both Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach.

It’s easy to expect big things from the USWNT at the London Olympics. Not only is the team the defending Gold Medal champions, but they will be looking for success again after losing the 2010 World Cup final to Japan. The USWNT has set the bar for women’s soccer around the world, and although titles are not everything, they are still certainly something. Furthermore, all eyes will be on the USWNT in this tournament, perhaps even more so than during the World Cup.

The Olympics present an opportunity for many people to watch sports they might not otherwise watch, and soccer can benefit from that. With the U-23 USMNT failing to qualify for the Olympics (sorry to bring that up again), the USWNT will be fully in the spotlight. Viewers will not have forgotten the electrifying though ultimately heartbreaking 2010 World Cup run, and the Olympics will feel a lot like another World Cup with many of the same teams in the mix. The USWNT has garnered a lot of well-deserved attention recently. The sell-out match at PPL Park was due to not be televised or streamed online, but after protests from fans, US Soccer added a stream of the match. The two games in Sweden were also available to watch on the Universal Sports Network or online via Universal Sports. The Olympics, of course, will be aired on the NBC family of networks as well as online.

The USWNT is a winning team, and America likes winning teams. Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan have been goal-scoring machines lately, Hope Solo is still a phenomenal goalkeeper, and the defense is reliable as ever. Look for this team to recapture America’s hearts this summer, and don’t be surprised when they set off London metal detectors with those medals around their necks.

The USWNT will play a send-off match at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah on June 30th. The first round of women’s Olympic soccer begins July 25th; the US will take on France.