The USWNT lost, then they won. What should we make of it? — Carli Lloyd live from Tokyo

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson for Monday, July 26, 2021 (ish)

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TOKYO — Hello! It may be Monday back at home but I’m honestly not sure.

My trip to Japan is chugging along. I’m still in “soft” quarantine, with daily temperature and COVID spit tests. Hoping to get through the rest of my days on earth without having to spit in a test tube ever again. I’m still not allowed to go anywhere, but most every day it’s 90+ degrees with 70 percent humidity. So maybe that’s not a bad thing.

I nearly got kicked out of the stadium in Saitama before Saturday’s games because they issued “pink” passes to the news agencies after I had already left Tokyo proper. No one told me I needed one! I was happy that someone from FIFA came to my rescue and they let me stay.

The thing about this Olympics is that the rules change on a nearly daily basis and it’s really frustrating. There’s coronavirus. There’s a language barrier. And there’s layers upon layers of bureaucracy. I’m really trying to be patient with everyone, but it’s hard and I’ve failed at times. My experiences here are really forcing me to look inward. I’m learning to talk less and apologize more.

Today I traveled to Kashima, where a tropical storm is about to hit. They’re saying 40-plus mph wins (unless it turns into a typhoon!) so tomorrow’s game could get interesting. Most likely it will be wet, but from what I understand this storm is fairly fast moving.

My Kashima hotel is an ugly industrial part of town that is basically car dealerships and a casino. It’s an hour away from the stadium. The restaurant in the hotel is closed because of the pandemic so there’s no food. Uber Eats has no options. I can walk to a convenience store about a half mile away. Cool.

Oh, and I can’t run more than two electric devices at the hotel or I overload the circuit and they call to yell at me.

Did I mention the tropical storm?

But the reason I’m here is not to complain. It’s the soccer! The unthinkable happened to the USWNT to start the Olympics and they lost to Sweden, which y’all already know.

You also know that the sky is not falling. As Christen Press so aptly observed, the USWNT also lost the opening game of the 2008 Beijing Games 2-0 to Norway and went on to win the gold medal.

It was the still team’s worst loss ever at the Olympics. And it was the first time they’d been shutout since 2017. The team lost by three for just the sixth time in its history. So yeah. Bad.

Then they played New Zealand and won 6-1. Yes, a rout. But it was New Zealand, which hadn’t played a single game together since March 2020. The talent level just wasn’t there (Sorry Abby Erceg). The Ferns had two own goals.

The United States still looked a bit off. The four goals pulled back as offside? That’s concerning. Perfectionist Carli Lloyd was understandably kicking herself after the game. More from Carli below, and I wrote about Carli’s take for the AP here.)

But, goal differential could matter, so at least the U.S. got the job done there.

Now it’s on to Australia, which beat New Zealand 2-1 and lost to Sweden 4-2. The Matildas are even on points with the Americans, but that goal differential gives the U.S. the edge.

Sam Kerr made a point to note that the Americans were unable to score on Sweden, while the Matildas got two goals. Clare Brennan for Just Women’s Sports spelled out here why Australia can beat the USWNT.

Sweden showed us two things. First, the Swedes are good. Second, women’s soccer around the world is getting better.

Yes, I know we all say that every single tournament, but as someone who has closely followed the sport for less than a decade, the talent gap is really quickly closing. Just look at Barbra Banda from Zambia! European teams are benefitting from the Women’s Super League and they’re bringing with them a more nuanced style of play to the international stage.

So keep your eyes on Sweden and the Netherlands in Tokyo. I think we’re seeing the continuation of a shift in the women’s game that makes it better for everyone.

And Go Banda Go!


Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. ESPECIALLY NOW, as newsrooms are forced to make difficult choices. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me!

Friends, as you have figured out the AP is at the Olympics and we’re covering every women’s soccer game (which is awesome, because a lot of news organizations have dropped coverage of individual games, especially in the group stage.) A good place to find the women’s soccer-related content is here.

I wrote a story about Barbra Banda to preview the final matches of the group stage.

My colleague Rob Harris wrote about Team GB, and what makes them unusual.

Curious about scenarios? The Athletic’s Steph Yang has you covered.

Meanwhile, The Athletic’s Meg Linehan looked at all the players in the running for the Golden Boot. This is a goal-fest, people.

Rachel Kriger wrote about Becky Burleigh taking over as interim coach in Orlando for The Equalizer.

Also for The Equalizer, John Halloran wrote about Casey Krueger. Love this story.

The USWNT filed a brief with the Ninth Circuit in the Equal Pay case.

The USWNT lost because of wokeism, apparently. LMFAO.

XINHUA wrote about the Steel Roses.

This was cute! The USWNT held its own opening ceremony.

CBS Sports did a story on Barbra Banda, who is wowing the field here at the Olympics.

Clare Brennan also wrote about Banda for JWS.

Kansas City traded A-Rod to North Carolina. Mind blown.

Amy Ruszkai for ponders where Press and Heath may wind up.

Minnesota Vikings owner buys Orlando City and the Pride.

NBC Sports talks to Crystal Dunn about being a Black woman on the USWNT.

The Orlando Sentinel’s Julia Poe wrote this nice story on Jodie Taylor, who went to Oregon State!


Five at The IX: Carli Lloyd—%20Carli%20Lloyd%20(@CarliLloyd)%20a%20href=

Here’s what Carli Lloyd said from the mixed zone in Saitama.

LLOYD: We can spend hours upon hours doing tactical work, technical work, but if we don’t have that mentality that’s been built for so long since we started this team, we’re not going to win. I’ve been a part of eight world championships, won four. I can tell you that we’ve won four because of a mentality. So that’s important. Today was a step in the right direction and I still think we have more to give. And it’s just the start.

QUESTION: You started on the front foot right away. How much of that was you and how much was the team?

LLOYD: Being in that position, the No. 9 position, I started the press so I dictiate. It’s sort of in my blood to want to press, to want to put teams under pressure. And that that was something we all had spoken about, as a team, to be on the front foot, to press, to get after them, because I think at the end of the day we shouldn’t give teams that much respect by sitting off. So it was a good response, we got great pressure and it showed in the first half.

QUESTION: It looked like there was more than than that, you see that there were four goals called back.

LLOYD: I mean I’m gonna have to re-watch the game. I’m not proud of myself being offsides that many times. They were pretty decent goals, unfortunately, but we’ve got to better, I’ve got to do better staying onside.

QUESTION: Could you not get in sync in the first half?

LLOYD: I mean, I think we’re pretty in sync in the first half, we were moving the ball. You know, they they sat back the second half. They started to get a little fatigued. But no, I think I think it was a good response from all of us tonight.

QUESTION: Kelly used the word ruthless, the other day. Did you guys need to be more ruthless?

LLOYD: Yeah, absolutely. I mean it’ a switch that should never be switched off. We need to have that switch turned on all the time. We need to be ruthless. We’ve got five subs this tournament, that we’re able to have fresh legs come on. So it’s really important that whoever’s on the field, we’ve got to just keep your foot on the pedal and go for as long as you can for other players to come in and do the same. So, yeah, ruthless mentality, grit, fight. That’s should be a standard thing that we bring every game.

QUESTION: On Thursday when you went to practice Did you just put that Wednesday behind you and just focus on today?

QUESTION: No, we spoke about it, we recapped the game. Vlatko spoke about mentality, I think we all knew that it needed to be better. We were playing under the same circumstances that Sweden was, no fans, so there was no excuse. We needed to be better. We just talked about the mentality of having that and then executing the game plan.

QUESTION: Was it pretty cool play before the first lady today?

LLOYD: Yeah it was great, great she made the trip. At least we had a couple of couple of people in the stands tonight.

We saw you guys all wave after the match, where you waving up to her?

Lloyd: Yes, definitely. Yeah, we were told where she was at so we got to say a little hello from afar. But yes, it was really really special that she was able to come out.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By Sarah Kellam @sarahkellam, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By Jessica Taylor Price, @jesstaylorprice, Freelance Gymnastics Writer

Written by Annie Peterson