Progress report: USWNT in fine form ahead of World Cup
We’re two weeks away from the start of the Women’s World Cup in France, and as usual the United States women’s national team is among the favorites to compete for the title of world champion.
Since a July 7, 2017 loss to eventual champions Australia at the Tournament of Nations, the USWNT has been steamrolling people to the tune of one loss in 26 matches.
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That includes an unbeaten 2018 in which the Yanks won 13 matches and drew once while scoring 47 goals and allowing just five. There was an 894-minute shutout streak, that stretched into 2019.
After a slow start to 2019, the USWNT has reclaimed its form since a pair of draws at the SheBelieves Cup, winning six-straight with five clean sheets.
It’s important to note, however, that the U.S. is not alone in posting a strong record. Aside from Brazil, which has lost an almost absurd nine-straight and 10 of 11, the big sides are performing well.
- England won the SheBelieves Cup.
- Canada beat England and has not lost in 2019.
- Germany’s played far fewer matches but also didn’t lose in 2018 and hasn’t in 2019.
- France has won nine of 10, the only loss coming to Germany.
There’s a question to ask whether the improvement of European teams have done a better job of iron sharpening iron than the USWNT in CONCACAF, but perhaps that’s better suited for another day.
Jill Ellis has pulled out most of the stops in trying to get her team rolling in defense of this World Cup, aiming to become the second team to win back-to-back World Cups while also putting a two cup difference between it and its closest competitors (Germany in both cases).
That’s huge, because the world has caught up to the front-running, early-adopting USWNT. As cool as those early titles were, Brandi Chastain’s moment and all, winning the loaded 2015 tournament in breakaway fashion was its most impressive accomplishment (They allowed one goal before the final, and beat Japan 5-2 on the final day).
To win consecutive tournaments given the strength of the rest of the world would put the program back on the highest ground, and further buttress the legacies of players like Julie Ertz, Kelley O’Hara, and Tobin Heath.
Winning the World Cup is serious business, and Ellis’ can lay down a marker as a magnate of the game with gold in France.