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2020 Tokyo Olympics

Will delay to Olympics drastically change the USWNT’s roster?

Photo Copyright Valerie Terranova Photography

Technically, it will remain true that no team wins the Olympics in the year after the World Cup. The next Olympic Games are now set to begin on July 23, 2021, almost a year to the day after originally scheduled, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United States women’s national team is looking to become the first squad in history to win the subsequent Olympics after prevailing as victors at the 2019 World Cup. If the Americans conquer the 12-team field, it would be a first, of course — semantics aside on whether those Olympics are in the “year following.”

There are two important aspects to analyze regarding the unforeseen additional year. The first has to do with why no World Cup champion has won an Olympics the following year. Ask any U.S. player who has gone through a full, four-year cycle and they’ll tell you the same thing: It’s exhausting. That’s especially the case if you win to World Cup. By the time the Americans got done winning in France, celebrating that, finishing their National Women’s Soccer League seasons and playing a couple friendlies under their new coach, they finally got their first extended break in over a year. So, this added rest could be a major benefit to the U.S. come July 2021.

Second, and more obvious, is the impact this delay will have on the roster. Pushing back the Games a full year later seemingly opens a whole new treasure chest of roster dilemmas for coach Vlatko Andonovski, who intentionally did not change too much upon taking the job in late October precisely because that turnaround to the Olympics is so tight. Will the extra year for the Games drastically change his roster? As of right now, it’s impossible to say for sure.

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