USWNT on first losing streak since 2017 as Women’s World Cup looms

  • The US Women’s National Team lost its second game in five days on Tuesday afternoon.
  • The World Cup champions have not lost consecutive games since March 2017.
  • The pair of losses in Europe come as the USWNT prepares to defend its World Cup crown next summer.

The US Women’s National Team is on a losing streak for the first time in more than five years.

And the timing doesn’t bode well for the Stars and Stripes.

The World Cup champions have lost back-to-back games during their much-anticipated European trip to open October. On Friday, the USWNT dropped a 2-1 decision to an England Lionesses team that had just won this summer’s Euros. Then, on Tuesday afternoon, Vlatko Antonovski’s side went down 2-0 to a Spanish national team that was playing without 15 of its starting players, who are boycotting the federation.

Spanish players celebrate after scoring a goal against the USWNT as Rapinoe screams in frustration.

Spanish players celebrate after scoring a goal against the USWNT as Rapinoe screams in frustration.

Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

“It’s really disappointing,” Antonovski said in a press conference after the loss to Spain. “There is no question.”

The United States’ loss to England – which came in front of a crowd of 76,893 at London’s Wembley Stadium – was incredibly competitive throughout. Although the USWNT’s defense struggled for stretches throughout the game, the team was able to claw back from the early deficit and would have equalized for the second time had it not been for a questionable VAR offside call in the 37th minute.

Still, the USWNT would have been lucky to draw if Trinity Rodman’s first-half goal had stood. The Lionesses outshot the Americans in both total shots and shots on goal, while maintaining possession for 69 percent of the game. They completed 618 passes, with 86% accuracy at the start.

England's Lauren Hemp cuts through the USWNT back line.

England’s Lauren Hemp cuts through the USWNT back line.

Action images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

Even so, Tuesday’s match in Pamplona, ​​Spain was more discouraging. Although La Roja was expected to be the weaker of the two U.S. opponents heading into the week, Spain managed to hold the Americans scoreless for the first time since a 0-0 draw against the Czech Republic in February.

Five second-half changes did nothing to soften the blow for Andonovski’s side. And as the game drew to a close, the players looked lost and exhausted.

Of course, the release of the Sally Yates investigation into rampant abuse within the National Women’s Soccer League – where the vast majority of USWNT players compete at the club level – just days before the first match no doubt served as a distraction and a mental strain for the American side.

However, the USWNT has built a reputation for winning at all costs and through all adversity — including, but not limited to, a feud with the president of the United States and a contentious legal battle with its own federation. This week’s result stands in stark contrast to that decades-old record.

And this is not the end of the Americans’ hard work.

Andonvoski and company will return stateside, with many players rejoining their NWSL teams for the 2022 playoffs, before regrouping for a pair of friendlies in early November against Germany, the world’s second-ranked women’s national team. The Euro 2022 runners-up will hope to extend their winning streak to five matches by upsetting the top-placed but vulnerable Americans in Florida and New Jersey.

Vlatko Antonovski.

USWNT coach Vlatko Antonovski.

Action images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

Between their disappointing bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, several lackluster performances against lower-ranked teams and this recent performance in Europe, the world champions appear to have a lot of work to do to address issues of cohesion, consistency and identity. . And with just nine short months to go before the 2023 World Cup kicks off in Australia and New Zealand, Andonovski will need to right the ship quickly.

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