The USWNT is running out of time to right the ship
With multiple injuries and poor showings, the USWNT is heading into next year's World Cup with serious setbacks.
The Women’s World Cup is eight months away, and the U.S. Women’s National Team is ready to add a fifth star to their crest. In reality, however, they look nothing at all like the team that came together to win the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, and it is worrisome how head coach Vlatko Andonovski does not see the issues the team faces. If the tournament started next month, the USWNT would not make it far in the competition.
Yes, you have probably heard it a thousand times before that the United States is not in good shape and that they will crash out in the next major tournament. And yes, they have proven all the critics wrong by winning those tournaments. But eventually, the wheels will start to burn out, and the last handful of friendlies have proven just that.
You can believe that Vlatko is unfit and unable to be the head coach of the USWNT while also acknowledging and believing the rest of the world has caught up and the sport is more competitive than ever.
The two are not mutually exclusive.
— kris 🤙🏼⚽️ (@Kristance77) November 11, 2022
The last four international friendlies of the year did not go as planned for the Red, White, and Blue. They played against Germany, England, and Spain, who are ranked third, fourth, and sixth in FIFA’s rankings, respectively. The U.S. lost 2-1 in England and 2-0 in Spain, who did not have nearly their best players available and still easily defeated the U.S. It was a wake-up call that the team needed to respond to.
But they didn’t, and the U.S. went on to lose a third-consecutive game against Germany. The last time the U.S. lost three consecutive games was in 1993, before I was even born. I’ve literally never seen it happen.
The USWNT is missing a lot of key players
How is this happening? To start, the USWNT has had to deal with a number of injuries this year. More than ten players away for injury or maternity leave have left huge holes on the roster, especially at midfield. The list of absent players includes:
- Abby Dahlkemper
- Emily Sonnet
- Kelly O’Hara
- Julie Ertz
- Casey Krueger
- Tierna Davidson
- Sam Mewis
- Christen Press
- Tobin Heath
- Lynn Williams
- Cat Macario
The two biggest absences by far are Mewis and Ertz, who have been sorely missed in the midfield. Mewis had surgery on her right knee in August 2021 and has not played a game in over a year. Ertz also suffered a knee injury last year which cost her the season in the NWSL, but somehow she was ready to play in the Olympics that summer. She did not play in the league this year due to the birth of her baby and it is not known when or if she will come back.
Hey @julieertz… we miss you in the midfield/on the team!! Please come back. 😭😭🏾#USWNT #USAvGER pic.twitter.com/ubNZTI70yz
— Aliya Langley (@aliyalangley) November 13, 2022
No one would blame her if she decided not to play again considering how bad her injury was. If Ertz decides not to come back and Mewis isn’t healthy enough to play, Andonovski is going to have to come up with another plan for the midfield. The current plan is not working, and opponents will tear that part of the team apart.
Someone needs to admit the issue
Eight months isn’t enough time to fix these issues. In the past they have been able to win in spite of certain situations, but the rest of the world is catching up. Maybe not next year or the year after that, but eventually the U.S. is not going to be the dominant force it has been for years. They still have time to change that, but they will have to admit there are issues in the first place. Hopefully this lack of accountability does not cost the United States a fifth World Cup title.