The US Women’s National Team (USWNT) kicks off their quest to recapture the Gold Medal this Wednesday at Tokyo and they’re facing the team that knocked them out in 2016 — Sweden. As usual, the USWNT will be massive betting favorites to win the Gold at -190 per the Olympic odds. Anything short of that would be considered a disaster.
Team USA Must Dominate
The USWNT fell short the last time, but it returns several stars from the previous Olympics. Familiar faces like forwards Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe return along with at least nine others who have previous Olympics experience.
Vlatko Andonovski is a new face as the team’s manager and will be leading the team in his first major international competition. He’s become quite a popular figure and has drawn rave reviews for his success at the NWSL.
Squad looking sharp 🇺🇸⚽️ pic.twitter.com/lA218Fx8eH
U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) July 15, 2021
The USA has won a gold medal in four of the last six Olympics. 2016 marked the first time the nation did not advance to the Gold Medal game. This new squad now has the pressure and opportunity to rectify this by returning to the top.
What Happened in the Last Olympics
The USA was +130 to win the Gold Medal in the 2016 Olympics but it fell short in a shocking fashion. After placing first in its group, the USA drew Sweden, the third-place team with a minus-three goal differential.
This was supposed to be just another win for the USA, but Sweden proved to be more resilient than everyone thought. The Swedes dueled the Americans to a 1-1 draw then finished them off via penalties.
It was the first time the USA failed to advance to the semi-finals of any major soccer tournament. But the loss was a blessing in disguise as it allowed the team to restructure and rebuild itself, and is now expected to return with a vengeance.
USA’s Path To Gold: Tested Early On
The USWNT gets a slightly easier path to the Gold Medal on paper in this year’s tournament. Germany and France, the second and third-ranked FIFA teams are not in the tournament. The USA, however, got lumped in a tough Group G and will get tested right off the bat against the team that eliminated them in 2016: Sweden.
USWNT’s opening match this Wednesday is a can’t-miss rematch against the Swedes. The USA is conservatively lined here and is listed at +110 to win and +120 to draw. Afterward, they take on New Zealand and should be heavily favored. Then it’s ninth-ranked Australia.
At worst, the USA should finish with seven points with two wins and a draw. The team is lined at -350 to win the group meaning a second-place finish would already be a disappointment. But whether first or second, the USA should have no issues advancing to the knockouts.
Early Knockout Rounds
If the USA wins Group G, they will face one of the third-ranked teams from Group E or F. That could be any one of China, Brazil, Canada or Japan. Regardless who they face, the USA will be favored, though it could get tricky.
The USA could also face any of Canada, Japan or Great Britain in the semis depending on who advances from that side. The British side could pose a challenge as the English historically have played the USA tough. Still, the USA should be chalk in the match.
The Gold Medal Match
If the favorites win, the USA could face the Netherlands or Sweden in the Gold Medal game. The Dutch are the second-highest ranked team in the tournament. The USA, however, beat Netherlands 2-0 in a friendly back in November so this should be a win for the USA.
A Gold Medal game against Sweden would be a fantastic match per the recent history between these two. Don’t count out Sweden, which also eliminated Germany from these Olympics. This might be a thrilling contest, and one the USA will thoroughly enjoy if they win.