USA have long been a dominant force in the women’s game. Even though winning a third FIFA Women’s World Cup™ still remains an elusive feat, the Americans have an extraordinary history at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament. The Stars and Stripes claimed the maiden edition in 1996 in Atlanta, which marked the beginning of a golden era for women’s football in the United States that reached its peak with a FIFA Women’s World Cup victory on home soil in 1999. With several experienced players recording their final international minutes in 2000, USA went on to finish second to Norway at the Olympic Games in Sydney. However, they soon regained their place atop the podium at Athens 2004, and followed up that success with a winner’s medal at Beijing 2008. And, the defending champions are keen on retaining gold this summer, with goalkeeper Hope Solo telling FIFA.com: "London 2012 is all about winning a medal. Not just any medal, the gold medal."
The United States cruised through qualifying for London 2012, winning the CONCACAF championship in convincing fashion with a 4-0 victory over fellow-qualifiers Canada in the final. After a heartbreaking runners-up finish to Japan at the last FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Americans set out to impress at the start of the New Year. Taking a more offensive-based approach than ever before, coach Pia Sundhage quickly began tweaking her side post-Germany 2011. The Swedish tactician has opted for a different line-up nearly every match, and the pairing of both youth and experience up front has proved lethal. Veteran striker Abby Wambach is nearing a world-record goal tally, while the youth ranks in rising star forward Alex Morgan and Lauren Cheney have also shown their attacking prowess as of late.
While USA have long occupied top spot in the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking, they are keen on further validating that status with their first major world championship since Beijing 2008. After coming up just short at Germany 2011 and failing to avenge, at least partially, that loss at the Algarve Cup against the Nadeshiko, the Americans have made little secret of their Olympic intentions. Setting their sights on a third successive Gold medal is a tall order, but unprecedented creativity and an eclectic mix of players has breathed life into the squad as they seek to remain a global power for years to come.
Facts and figures
Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Julie Foudy
Abby Wambach (forward), Hope Solo (goalkeeper), Alex Morgan (forward)
In qualifying for London 2012, USA racked up an impressive 31 goals without reply in just five matches.
The numbers game
3 – USA have won three of the past four editions of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament, winning gold at Beijing 2008, Athens 2004, and Atlanta 1996.
|9||Heather O REILLY|