(CBS Local)- The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) kicks disconnected its quest for the Olympic golden medal successful the aboriginal greeting hours of Wednesday erstwhile the squad takes connected Sweden successful radical signifier play astatine 4:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The U.S. enters the tourney arsenic dense favorites and Vlatko Andonovski’s squad is hoping to avenge its 5th spot effect from Rio successful 2016.
The USWNT has gone unbeaten successful 44 consecutive matches but CBSSports.com shot writer and big of the Attacking Third podcast, Sandra Herrera, says the U.S. show successful their past 5-10 games has been peculiarly awesome answering immoderate of the questions radical had astir the team.
“This is simply a squad led by caput manager Vlatko Andonovski that wanted to spot definite things travel to airy up of this Olympic Games and we started to spot that erstwhile they started getting backmost into camps and getting backmost into planetary friendlies due to the fact that a batch of these players had to woody with definite things amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” Herrera said successful an interrogation with CBS Local’s Ryan Mayer. “Coming distant with each of these wins and each of these results, they were getting immoderate questions answered. A subordinate similar Tobin Heath who had been injured, an integral portion of this attack. Was she going to beryllium fit? Was she going to beryllium acceptable successful clip for the Olympics? Here she comes successful the last 2 matches, lighting things up and letting everybody cognize she has returned. There’s a batch of strengths crossed this 22 subordinate roster. They’re the squad to vie against successful these Summer Games.”
There are galore familiar faces connected this Olympic squad from some the 2019 World Cup winning squad and the Rio 2016 Olympic team, truthful fans volition person plentifulness of recognizable names to cheer for. One that Herrera thinks could go much of a household sanction successful this tourney arsenic a caller returnee to nationalist squad play is Kristie Mewis.
“She hasn’t been progressive with the nationalist squad for the past six years. She truly played her mode backmost into this signifier disconnected of the backmost of awesome nine play,” Herrera said. “We’re talking nine play with the Houston Dash of the NWSL wherever they went connected to triumph the 2020 Challenge Cup final. Impressive successful the midfield, was a large portion of that team, integral successful that title final. She’s a subordinate that could imaginable person an interaction successful this Olympics.”
While galore of the questions were answered and the U.S. enters with wide strengths astatine each level of the field, Herrera points to the backmost enactment arsenic an country that opponents could look to exploit if they’re looking for weaknesses.
“If you’re looking to effort to find someone, it’s truthful hard but if you’re the opposition, you’re looking possibly astatine that backmost line. Crystal Dunn is rather frankly 1 of their amended defenders. She’s an attacking extracurricular back, she has the quality to screen a batch of abstraction retired connected the flank,” Herrera said. “But, erstwhile you’re looking astatine the halfway backmost duo oregon possibly the seasoned extracurricular backmost successful Kelley O’Hara, determination mightiness beryllium immoderate looks from the absorption wherever they say, ‘hey, there’s possibly a small spot of deficiency of speed, possibly a deficiency of pace, possibly we tin effort to exposure those areas.’ But, we’ll see. They’re going to person to drawback these defenders connected a existent disconnected day.”
All that said, the U.S. arsenic Herrera noted, is the squad to bushed entering the tournament. The radical signifier volition spot them look Sweden, New Zealand and Australia and it’s the Swedes that Herrera points to arsenic the biggest menace to a U.S. medal.
“Hands down it’s perfectly Sweden. They’ve been a rival of the USWNT for galore years,” Herrera said. “There’s a batch of past determination betwixt these 2 sides. Their games person ever been precise tense, close, tightly contested matches and we’re astir apt going to spot thing akin to commencement disconnected this radical stage. If I’m the USWNT, I’m looking astatine this and embracing it for the situation that it is due to the fact that these 2 teams are going to beryllium kicking disconnected their Olympic journeys going head-to-head successful that precise archetypal radical match. It’s astir apt going to archer america a batch astir however that radical shakes out.”
Here is the USWNT’s afloat radical signifier docket including the transmission you tin drawback them on.
Wednesday, July 21 vs. Sweden 4:30 a.m. EDT (USA Network)
Saturday, July 24 vs. New Zealand 7:30 a.m. EDT (NBC Sports Network)
Tuesday, July 27 vs. Australia 4:00 a.m. EDT (USA Network)