The United States Women’s National Team arrived in Melbourne for its win-or-go-home match against Sweden in the knockout round of the 2023 Women’s World Cup. While the U.S. Women were heavy favorites, entering the tournament as two-time defending World Cup champions, having won the tournament in both 2015 and 2019, they haven’t played like it so far.
Even though the team was able to make it out of the group stage with a 3-0 victory over Vietnam and draws against the Netherlands and Portugal, they’ve been the subject of heavy criticism for their lack of inspiring play thus far.
The word “joy” has been brought up numerous times. And even after they were blasted by USWNT legend Carli Lloyd for the way they celebrated after advancing to the Round of 16 with a draw against Portugal, they’re trying to be as loose as possible ahead of their matchup against the World’s No. 3 ranked team.
The team was even listening to the soundtrack from the movie Barbie during a training session ahead of Sunday’s game.
Ahead of the team’s match against Sweden, Fox Sports’ Jenny Taft spoke with U.S. forward Sophia Smith, who said that “There’s this misconception that inside we’re not doing well because there has been criticism on the outside, but we’re in a great place—exactly where we want to be. We’re through to the Round of 16. We realize we haven’t had our best performance and have one more opportunity to put it all together against Sweden.”
The U.S. Women will need to put it all together, otherwise, their World Cup will come to a premature end.