The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team is on a mission for redemption. After a rare disappointing performance and loss to Sweden in the Olympic opener, they bounced back with a 6-1 win against New Zealand on Saturday, bumping them to second place in Group G with one game left to play. On Tuesday, the U.S. faces off against Australia in the final group stage match before the elimination tournament. A lot is on the line for the American team, they need a win or a tie to make it to the knockout round.

USA VS AUSTRALIA PROJECTED STARTERS

USA: Alyssa Naeher, Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Kelley O’Hara, Samantha Mewis, Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle, Christen Press, Alex Morgan, Lynn Williams

AUS: Lydia Williams, Aivi Luik, Clare Polkinghorne, Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley, Tameka Yallop, Emily van Egmond, Hayley Raso, Caitlin Foord, Sam Kerr, Kyah Simon

USWNT: CAN THEY MAINTAIN THEIR MOMENTUM?

For a team that is usually so dominant from the very beginning of every tournament, the U.S. has been off to a slow start. They began the 2021 Olympics the exact same way they ended the 2016 Olympics: with a big-time loss to Sweden. In Rio in 2016, Sweden defeated the U.S. in the quarterfinals, handing them the earliest U.S. Olympic exit ever. In Tokyo this year, in the Olympic opener, the U.S. once again fell to Sweden, effectively ending their 44-game winning streak.

In an extremely dominant performance but in a strange game on Saturday, the U.S. defeated New Zealand 6-1, with Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, Christen Press, Alex Morgan scoring, two own goals from New Zealand, and four U.S. goals that were ruled null due to offsides. According to the Team USA website, the six goals scored marked the U.S.’s highest-scoring performance ever in an Olympic match while the five-goal victory also set a record for the USA’s largest margin of victory ever at the Olympic Games. 

On Tuesday, the U.S. faces Australia in a pivotal match, in which they must either tie or win to advance to the elimination round. Still ranked the number one team in the world, the U.S. is once again the heavy favorite for this match, but taking into account their recent devastatingly disappointing performance against Sweden, it may be a closer game than originally thought. 

This outcome of this match will have a major impact on determining the finishing order of Group G and their potential placement in the elimination rounds. According to the Team USA website, the U.S. sits second in the group with a superior goal differential (plus-2 compared to minus-1 for Australia), meaning they can finish no worse than second in the group with a win or draw. The top two teams from each group as well as the top two third-place teams advance to the knockout stages.

The U.S.’s dreams of a Tokyo gold medal rest precariously on their Tuesday game against Australia. The number-one-ranked women’s soccer team in the world should be able to earn a win, but some aspects of their performance, as was showcased in their opening match loss to Sweden, have been uncharacteristically shaky as of late. It may be a close game, but if one thing is for certain, it is that the U.S. Women’s National Team will be ready to take on Australia and defend their chances of winning gold in Tokyo.

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Allyson Park is a sports writer and media content creator at Knup Solutions. She covers a variety of sports, including football, soccer, basketball, and baseball. She is currently a student at Virginia Tech majoring in multimedia journalism and minoring in creative writing. Her favorite sports to watch are NFL football and women's soccer. After graduating, she hopes to enter the sports journalism industry and provide a unique angle and perspective on sports as a woman of color.

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