USWNT devoid of chemistry as Olympic gold chance slips away with Canada defeat

No one knew who the U.S. women’s national team would be when they arrived in the Olympic semifinal against Canada. It was going to be the team that displayed exuberance and tenacity in defeating the Netherlands to win a penalty shootout. Was it going to the team that was beaten 3-0 by Sweden in the opening match of the tournament?The result was 1-0 for the United States, which disappointed American fans who were awake early Monday morning to see it. It should not have been surprising, however: This subpar USWNT has been present for almost the entire tournament. The USWNT has never looked anything like the team that won the World Cup two years ago, with the exception of some outstanding performances by Lynn Williams or Alyssa Neher against the Netherlands.Canada emerged exactly as the USWNT expected. It was physically tough and determined, trying to take over the USWNT's favorite spaces. The four-player Canadian diamond midfield managed to overwhelm and overtake the USWNT's central trio. Canada was also able to overcome the Americans much more easily. They were very static in their off the ball movement and seldom had the space to create outlets. And when they tried to move the ball, it was slow and sloppy.The U.S. was the most dangerous team in the second period. They generated an expected-goals stat which may have been sufficient, but it took too long to get into the game. The U.S. did not score its first goal in the 65th minute.Canada was only able to break through when Tierna Davidson fouled Deanne rose in the box. This was a little ironic considering that Davidson was one the USWNT's most consistent players in this rough tournament. Abby Dahlkemper would normally start, but she was unsuccessful in every of her previous games.- Report: USWNT loses to Canada in Olympic semi-finals- Undefeated - How Scurry's save opened the way for FranchIt's hard to say that Canada's penalty was against play. Canada was barely in the USWNT's last third at that point, and had no legitimate scoring opportunities. Canada's strategy didn't call for attacking a lot; it only needed to keep the USWNT at bay, and that's exactly what it did.The injury to Naeher in the 20th minutes could have caused a serious problem for the Americans if they had advanced or gone through penalties. She practically carried the team against the Netherlands in the quarterfinals, but it didn't matter. The USWNT, known for its attacking prowess, and so-called embarrassment, of riches, failed to score goals in Japan. Vlatko andonovski is now the focus.The women's Olympics soccer tournament can be quite forgiving. While many of the best teams weren't there, finishing third in the group stage was enough to allow teams to progress. Any team that finishes in the top three earns a medal which is an indication of some success. The USWNT's history and expectations demand that the USWNT be the first to leave the group and reach the gold-medal match. Neither of these things happened.If there was an explanation, it might be forgiven. Jill Ellis, who led the USWNT's worst ever finish at the Olympics 2016, had just won a World Cup. She decided to immediately start turning her roster over to give players more experience in the lead up to the next World Cup. The team was still dominant in its group, but lost to Sweden in quarterfinals by penalties. It had been a close match.Andonovski, however, brought with him a roster of players who had already won the 2019 World Cup. These players looked like shells of their former selves. The results of the USWNT were not as expected. They also lost three games and won only once in regulation.This poor showing will still be examined over time. Did the roster seem too old as some critics suggested? Did the USWNT's tactics not keep pace with the changing game of women's soccer? Did the players not have enough training? These would all be on Andonovski, perhaps.This USWNT looked more so than anything else. They weren't connecting with each other. They were not aggressive. They were not having fun. They were not what the USWNT has been throughout its history.Canada defeated the USWNT in the semifinals. Francois Nel/Getty ImagesWhen Andonovski was asked why the USWNT looked different in the tournament, he seemed as confused as everyone else.He said, "I don’t really know." He said, "I think we came out and competed well, the players gave their all, tried hard. I guess we're going have to go back to dig a little deeper to find out why it didn't work out the way we expected or why it turned out the way it did. We'll have to dig very deep to uncover everything.Megan Rapinoe then jumped in.She said, "If I could say one thing, I think the players have a lot of things to be proud of." It's not about 'Oh, they didn't play worse' or getting on one another, but we must perform better. We aren't getting enough juice from the ball banging on our shins, and we're not making open passes or doing simple tasks."We can dive into analysis, and I know that we will. But at the end, there's all you can prepare and all the tactics. And then there's everything else. That's what we were missing. It's not possible to put a name to 'everything else', but it's all about getting it done by players, from everyone.Rapinoe's point was well taken, but it is also Andonovski’s responsibility to ensure that the players are mentally ready and prepared to respond if they aren’t. He selected the rosters, and he picked the lineups that would perform. He looked just as distraught as the players in the opening loss to Sweden and the USWNT has not looked the same since.Andonovski may have been the wrong hire. Kate Markgraf will be under scrutiny for her decision. Did it make a mistake to hire a coach without international experience? Did the search go far enough? Did enough candidates get considered?While there is still a bronze medal to be won, it will have very little impact on the fallout.