Soccer  

USWNT winning culture, mentality disappearing

Two-time World Cup winner Carli Lloyd said that the current United States women’s national team has lost the winning mentality that once defined it after the team fell to its third-straight loss on Thursday.

The USWNT went down 2-1 to Germany at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after an 89th-minute winner from Paula Krumbiegel that swiftly followed an 85th-minute equalizer from veteran Megan Rapinoe.

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After defeats to European champions England and Spain last month, it means the USWNT has now lost three straight games for the first time since 1993. Thursday’s loss was also the team’s first at home in more than five years.

“The winning culture and mentality that has carried on from generation to generation within the USWNT has been fizzling away,” Lloyd wrote on Twitter Friday.

“I said it when I retired. I saw it slipping away. Players have to embody that. That’s been our DNA since the 80s, but not so much anymore.”

Lloyd retired last year after a career that saw her make 316 appearances, scoring 134 goals, for the U.S. and win two Olympic gold medals, in addition to her World Cup triumphs.

“Wanting to win has taken on a different meaning,” Lloyd added. “The rest of the world doesn’t fear us anymore. They used to lose the game before it started.”

It is not the first time that Lloyd has criticized the USWNT. Earlier this year she lamented a cultural change in the team in recent years, saying some players were more focused on building their brands than winning.

But Lloyd was not alone among former players taking aim at their successors on the USWNT.

“Let’s start with mentality. Last 30 minutes. Too many allowed crosses in the box and not dealt with well at all,” tweeted 2015 World Cup winner and three-time Olympic gold medalist Heather O’Reilly.

“On the flip side, no urgency in the last 5 mins. You are about to lose at home. Get the f—ing ball down the field and fight.”

Coach Vlatko Andonovski, who took charge following the USWNT’s triumph at the 2019 World Cup, has led a generational change since a disappointing bronze-medal finish at the Tokyo Olympics last year.

But despite bringing back veteran like Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Becky Sauerbrunn, plenty of question marks remain ahead of the USWNT defending its World Cup title in Australia and New Zealand next summer.

The U.S. will face off with Germany once again on Sunday and, despite scoring just two goals in its last three games, Andonovski insisted he wasn’t concerned.

“I trust these players,” he said. I believe that these players are capable of scoring goals. In fact, the front line consists of the three best goal scorers from the NWSL that are eligible to play for this country,” Andonovski said, referring to Sophia Smith, Morgan and Mallory Pugh.

“They’ve proven that they can score goals, they’ve proven can play through this. They can score goals, different ways and sometimes it just doesn’t happen. But like I said, I’m not concerned but I for sure want them to score more goals.”