After the thrill of winning successive Women’s World Cup titles, the 2023 tournament – so far – has brought the US team very much down to earth with a bump.
Portugal was desperately unlucky not to engineer one of the great Women’s Cup shocks, notably when Ana Capeta’s shot deflected off the post in the last few minutes of the game.
For a team that has been so historically dominant at the Women’s World Cup, performances throughout the 2023 edition so far have been underwhelming for women’s soccer’s most dynastic team.
Head coach Vlatko Andonovski admitted his side “did not play well” against Portugal, while TNT soccer analyst and the US Women’s National Team (USWNT) great Julie Foudy told CNN: “They just haven’t been clicking – the thing I keep coming back to is it doesn’t feel like there is a lot of chemistry.
Their three matches at this tournament represents the US women’s worst group stage performance in World Cup history – and no team has ever won the competition having picked up so few points in the preliminary stage.
Alex Morgan listed the lack of clinical finishing at the tournament as the main cause of the team’s woes.
“You know, I feel like it’s taking advantage of the chances that we have,” Morgan told reporters. “We created enough to put the ball in the back of the net.”
At the 2019 World Cup, the US scored 18 goals in its three group stage matches, compared to just four at this year’s edition, though 13 of them came in a famous win over Thailand. However, the goalless draw against Portugal marks the first time since 2015 that the team has failed to score in a World Cup game.
It is just the second time the US has failed to win its group – the other occasion being 2011, though they did progress to the final that year.
The USWNT had also never before failed to win at least two of its group games in any of its World Cup appearances.
However, this World Cup has arguably demonstrated a leveling up in the women’s game. True there have been some wide margins of victories – the Netherlands beat Vietnam 7-0 on Tuesday – but nothing to compare with Thailand’s humbling by the US four years ago.
Prior to Tuesday’s draw, the USW