In fact, the average age of the squad is 30.8 years, the oldest national team the USA — men or women — has sent to a World Cup or the Olympic Games. Ten of the 18 players are over 30. But contained in those years are a lot of wins — 17 players were on the team that won the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. This veteran side will need to weather six games in 17 days in the heat and humidity of Japan to secure an unprecedented fifth gold medal in seven Olympic women’s soccer tournaments and become the first team to win a world championship and a gold medal in the same cycle.
The Olympic team was unveiled Wednesday morning as the world finally learned which tough decisions head coach Vlatko Andonovski had to make with his selections. Two notable choices were players who haven’t been able to participate in any recent matches.
They were midfielders Julie Ertz, who had been sidelined with an MCL injury she suffered in a National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) game against the Portland Thorns and midfielder Tobin Heath, who hasn’t played since suffering an ankle injury with Manchester United in January.
It could be considered a gamble in many quarters, although the track record for both players is quite impressive. They were vital members of the 2015 and 2019 World Cup championship sides.
If everyone is healthy, the “perfect” starting XI should look something like this in a 4-3-3 formation:
Goalkeeper — Alyssa Naeher; Defenders — Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Kelley O’Hara; Midfielders — Rose Lavelle, Julie Ertz, Sam Mewis; Forwards — Christen Press, Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan. Don’t fret, Carli Lloyd fans, she likely will get plenty of playing time. After all, she has a history of making an impact at the highest stage.
Of course, players’ form and fitness, opponents and tactics could change the starting XI from game to game.
Here is a quick look at the four platoons: