The US Women’s National Team didn’t play like its normal, dominant self during the round-robin stage of the Olympic women’s soccer tournament. But the Americans say the real tournament starts now that they’ve reached the knockout rounds.
The United States held a scoreless draw against Australia on Tuesday, which was enough for Team USA to finish second in Group G and advance through to the quarterfinals.
US plays tactically to avoid elimination
The Australians also advanced as one of the two best third-place teams. With both teams knowing that a draw meant qualifying, while a loss could put them in danger of elimination, the play was tight and professional, if not so exciting for viewers.
Forward Alex Morgan had the best scoring opportunity of the game, and appeared to have scored. But VAR found that she had been offside on the play, erasing the goal.
“It was tactical decision by [coach Vlatko Andonovski] to shift defensively, a little more conservatively, and really allow them to get impatient, play along and give it back to us,” Morgan said after the match. “Eventually, I feel like both teams kind of sat in, and it became a matter of playing a professional game and moving on.”
The US went 1-1-1 in pool play. The Americans opened the Olympic women’s soccer tournament with a stunning 3-0 loss to Sweden. The Swedes ultimately won Group G with a perfect record and an impressive +7 goal differential.
The United States bounced back with a 6-1 win over New Zealand to give themselves strong hopes of qualification. The draw against Australia assured the US team of second place in the group, as they had a better goal differential heading into the game.
World Cup rematch in Olympic women’s soccer quarterfinals
As the runner-up in Group G, Team USA now has to play the Group F winner: the Netherlands. The Dutch team has been dynamic throughout pool play, scoring a tournament-high 21 goals while no other squad has found the net even 10 times. The Netherlands has also allowed eight goals themselves: they beat Zambia 10-3 to open the tournament, then drew Brazil 3-3 before blowing out China 8-2.
The United States comes into the quarterfinal as a favorite, but not a massive one. DraftKings Sportsbook rates Team USA as a -150 pick to advance over the Netherlands (+110). The United States beat the Netherlands 2-0 in the final of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
|Olympic Women’s Soccer Odds – To Win Gold (via DraftKings Sportsbook)|
|USA: +140||Sweden: +275|
|Netherlands: +500||Great Britain: +700|
|Brazil: +700||Japan: +1200|
|Canada: +2000||Australia: +2500|
The Americans also remain the favorites to win gold in women’s soccer. DraftKings lists the USA as the +140 pick to take the gold medals, ahead of Sweden (+275) and the Netherlands (+500).
While it’s clear that the United States must step up its play to win gold, head coach Vlatko Andonovski says the draw against Australia sets the team up well for the knockout rounds.
“It was a great test for us today to see that the players can execute the game plan very, very well,” Andonovski told reporters. “So whatever we feel like we need to do to win the [next] game, we’re going to present it to them and then let them do their job.”