soccer

Hey, NYC! Remember That Ticker-Tape Parade? US Women in Win-or-Go-Home Olympic Match

The American women have been shut out in two games in Japan — the last time they hadn't scored in a game was in 2017; they take on the Netherlands in a must-win quarterfinal thanks to a draw against Australia

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The U.S. women's national soccer team was the beneficiary of the first-ever New York City ticker-tape parade for a professional female team after winning the World Cup in 2019.

It was the last great spectacle along the Canyon of Heroes before the most recent "Hometown Heroes" parade honoring frontline COVID-19 workers this month.

New York remembers those 2019 champions -- and is rooting for them once again in the Tokyo Olympics, where Megan Rapinoe, New Jersey's Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and company will take on the Netherlands in the quarterfinals.

Things are a bit different now though for the U.S. women's team, who gave up a stunning loss to Sweden in their opening match in Tokyo, ending a 44- match unbeaten streak. It was only a 0-0 tie with Australia that advanced them to the quarterfinals in the first place -- and they know how dangerous this round can be.

Lose the game against the Netherlands — the team's opponent in the 2019 World Cup final in France — Friday in Yokohama and they head home. So what will they do differently?

Christen Press, one of the team's most dangerous assets on offense, recently acknowledged the realities of playing tournament soccer.

“This tournament is really tough with the amount of games that you need to play without as many days in between as other tournaments. And so I think with that, there has to be tactical sophistication in how we manage," she said.

“Ultimately, when the team is at its best, we are relentless and we are lethal. And even in the game against Australia, we could have been on the counter more and we could have put away some chances and would have felt really different about that.”

Sweden beat the United States Women’s National Team 3-0 in the first soccer match of the Tokyo Olympics.

Press has six goals and five assists this year so far, including a goal in the U.S. team's 6-1 victory over New Zealand in the group stage.

The United States, which is vying for its fifth overall gold medal at these Olympics, lost 3-0 in the opener to Sweden, snapping a 44-match unbeaten streak. The Americans have been shut out in two games in Japan — the last time they hadn't scored in a game was in 2017.

Expect to see a different U.S. team as the stakes get higher, Press said.

“I think that in the last three games you’ve seen us take different tactical approaches in the group stage. Now we’re in the knockout phase and I think that will look really different,” she said. “I think that the team is really hungry. The group stage has left us feeling like we have more to give."

It helps that the United States has defeated the Netherlands before, both for the World Cup title and in a friendly last November. Both scorelines were 2-0.

Former President Donald Trump says the U.S. women's national soccer team's opening match loss at the Tokyo Olympics was a good example of "wokeism" causing people to lose.

“I think the Dutch have a very clear style of play that they are true to. And I think when they won their Euro and when they made it to the World Cup final, that was new for them," Press said. "The biggest difference is now they have years under their belt at the top and that feels a little bit different, they’re a little bit more experienced.”

Press, who made her national team debut in 2013, has 65 overall goals in 152 appearances. A standout at Stanford who won the MAC Hermann Trophy as the nation’s best college player as a senior, Press went on to play for clubs in Sweden in addition to stints in the National Women's Soccer League.

Last season she played for Manchester United in the Women's Super League, joining a number of players who went overseas while the coronavirus limited opportunities for games in the United States.

This is Press' second Olympics. The first ended in disappointment when the United States was bounced by Sweden in the quarterfinals in 2016.

She doesn't expect a similar fate on Friday.

“I think we know what type of team we are. And as an offense, we know what type of offense we are. And we have a way that we play. We have a way that we score goals. And it’s been successful for years," she said. "It’s our job to take the pitch tomorrow and be that team and not to be thinking about the last game or the group stage at all, because we have a huge opportunity.”

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
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