After winning three group stage games by a combined score of 16-0, the United States of America is one game away from qualifying for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. This would be their sixth Olympics and the USWNT would be going for their fifth gold medal.
The USWNT got through Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and Mexico in the group stage and while a +16 goal differential sounded like it was a cakewalk, it was far from that. Well, the United States did beat Puerto Rico and Costa Rica 10-0 and 5-0 respectively, but Mexico really took the USWNT to task and very much had a chance to grab a result. In the end, the USWNT escaped with a 1-0 win off of a controversial penalty.
Now, the USWNT will face Trinidad & Tobago for one of the two CONCACAF Olympic spots. This is all or nothing for the USWNT. If the United States win, they advance to the Olympics. If the United States loses, they will not go to the Olympics. Trinidad & Tobago isn’t a pushover by any stretch of the imagination, but as the 48th ranked team in FIFA, the United States already got through higher ranked teams like Costa Rica and Mexico. The last time the United States played Trinidad & Tobago, the USWNT won 6-0 last December.
In terms of squad rotation, the USWNT had the benefit of benching most of their starters last game against Puerto Rico. In a tournament where teams are playing three games in five days, getting a break from the last game to buy yourself some rest for a big qualifying game is huge. Many USWNT players will have had six days where they at best, played less than a full 90 minutes. On the other end, Trinidad & Tobago had to play a day later than the United States and had to play their starters because they were in a must win game against Guyana in order to seal their 2nd place standing.
Either way, tonight’s game should be a test for the USWNT but it should be a very achievable test. I’m not saying Trinidad & Tobago couldn’t beat the United States but it’s going to be incredibly tough. But, if they look at what Mexico did and use that as a playbook to try and beat the USWNT, they have a chance. Regardless of opponent, the USWNT knows what’s at stake and will not take it lightly so they will be bringing it, just like Trinidad & Tobago.