In addition to pursuing excellence on the field, a handful of outspoken players on the U.S. Soccer Women’s National Team have used their worldwide Olympic exposure to amplify political resistance to former President Donald Trump and his policies.
As such, the team’s recent upset loss in the semifinals resulted in a mixed reaction from spectators in America and around the globe.
“Good luck to Canada”
The team was knocked out of contention for a gold medal after losing to the Canadian team this week by a score of 1-0 after a penalty kick.
Now, the winning team is set to take on Sweden, a team that also defeated the heavily favored U.S. team, in its quest for Olympic gold.
Heartbreaking but hard-fought. Good luck to Canada in the final. pic.twitter.com/Er92S6M6cF
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) August 2, 2021
Meanwhile, the U.S. has been relegated to a bronze medal game against Australia. The two teams previously played to a 0-0 draw in the opening round, ending its bid to be the first women’s team ever to win an Olympic gold medal immediately after winning a World Cup championship.
While the U.S. team’s loss came as a shock to some spectators, it was not a complete surprise to others who noted the lackluster performance of players throughout the Olympic games.
“We kind of had a feeling”
Although the team routed New Zealand following a loss to Sweden, the U.S. team tied Australia and barely defeated the Netherlands in an overtime shootout quarterfinals game.
The Canadian squad’s captain remarked that “maybe some things weren’t clicking” for the American players.
“Heading into this game, we kind of had a feeling they were ripe for the picking,” said Christine Sinclair.
Questions about the current makeup of the team and tactics used to prepare for the Olympics remain — particularly coaching decisions and its apparent reliance on veteran players at the expense of the agility of younger players who remained in the U.S. or on the bench for much of the tournament.
Of course, few Americans would actively root against the nation’s teams, but the outspoken partisanship of players like star Megan Rapinoe has reportedly led to a muted response among some conservatives to the fortunes of the U.S. soccer team.