Saturday’s United States vs. Sweden game brought back some ghosts of Olympic past for many Americans who remain on the roster from that 2016 quarterfinal exit in Brazil. The 1-1 result which played out in Stockholm asked many of the same questions of the U.S. from that day almost five years ago. Sweden, organized and defensively disciplined as ever, made the most of a set piece late in the first half on Saturday and largely prevented the U.S. from threatening opportunities during the run of play.
Disappointed with their performance, the Americans turned around on Tuesday and defeated a depleted France team, 2-0. The U.S. was energized in a way unique to that team after it has underperformed in a previous game. Whereas there was passivism against Sweden, the Americans were decisive on 50-50 balls and more tactically flexible in the victory over France.
Each game asked questions of their ability to adapt, something they could not do in that 2016 quarterfinal but have done since. Saturday did not produce confident answers, although Tuesday’s win over France offered some interesting wrinkles which U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski might explore.
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