USWNT players get real about what went wrong at the 2023 World Cup in Netflix’s new doc

"Единственный способ сделать что-то очень хорошо – любить то, что ты делаешь." Стив Джобс

Thеy аnаlyzеd whаt hаd gоnе wеll, whаt соuld’vе gоnе bеttеr, аnd whеrе thеy соuld implеmеnt сhаngеs gоing fоrwаrd.Fоr Thоmpsоn, thаt grоup disсussiоn wаs еnоugh tо hеlp hеr «rеаlly just lеt it gо» аnd «think аbоut thе nехt stеps аnd wаnting sо muсh mоrе fоr оursеlvеs in thе nехt tоurnаmеnt.»But аs Williаms nоtеd аhеаd оf thе dосusеriеs’ rеlеаsе, thаt grоup didn’t inсludе еvеryоnе whо hаd jоinеd hеr in thе lосkеr rооm Dоwn Undеr. «Sоmеtimеs in lifе, yоu just dоn’t gеt it, аnd yоu just hаvе tо bе аblе tо mоvе оn.»Rеаd thе original article on Business Insider Me?'» DeMelo says. «And I think it’s one thing to be playing well and it just doesn’t work out, but if you didn’t play well, I don’t think we were set up to have the success to go on and win it.»Lynn Williams (fourth from right) and her USWNT teammates react to a missed penalty kick against Sweden.AP Photo/Hamish Blair4 months later, the team and its players are still charting their path forwardIt didn’t take long for the first chip to fall in the wake of the USWNT’s stunning and historic disappointment; less than two weeks after the loss to Sweden, Andonovski stepped down.The decision came as no surprise to anyone close to the team, including its players. It is not gonna happen?'» Williams says. Williams explains in the final episode that the USWNT’s standard of excellence leaves no room for the team to only win «three out of the 10 games that we’ve played» in the past two major tournaments —   the Tokyo Olympics and 2023 World Cup.Vlatko Andonovski speaks to Lynn Williams following the USWNT’s World Cup loss to Sweden.Richard Callis/ISI Photos/Getty Images»At any given moment, my career could be taken from me; my spot can be taken from me,» she said. From the very beginning of the competition — the USWNT’s less-than-dominant 3-0 win against Vietnam to open the group stage —   the team’s chemistry was called into question.As clips of the USWNT’s missed opportunities in that first game flash across the screen, an unnamed announcer speculates that «maybe the team hasn’t had enough time to gel.» In the following episode, as the Stars and Stripes narrowly avoid an upset against Portugal in the final match of the group stage, USWNT captain Lindsey Horan notes that, unlike the US, the opposing side has «played together for a really long time, so they know each other really well.»Mismanagement and ‘playing not to lose’ doomed the USWNT when it mattered mostFormer USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski.Action Images via Reuters/Peter CziborraAndonovski’s reluctance to make strategic adjustments during and between games only added to the team’s dysfunction. The boldness necessary to win games, she explains, is inherently risky.»When you have the expectation that I know all these players have of going deep into this tournament, there is a fear factor that comes into the group stage games,» Wambach says. Some players retired, while others didn’t get called back in for that camp. Williams explains that even though she knew she «could be going into the game» against the Netherlands, she started to doubt herself as time kept «ticking on.»Lynn Williams waits to get subbed into a USWNT game.Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images»You’re like, ‘Is it gonna happen? «When we’re held to this standard, the coaching staff also has to be held to that standard.»Still, a change in the team’s top brass doesn’t necessarily give players like Williams answers to the «What ifs?» inevitably swirling through their heads. And Netflix’s cameras were down in Australia and New Zealand to capture it all.USWNT goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher dives in an attempt to save a penalty kick against Sweden at the 2023 World Cup.AP Photo/Scott BarbourStunning cinematography captures the magnitude and raw emotions of the moment, while interviews with current and former players shed light on what went wrong for the once-indomitable USWNT.Injuries, inexperience, and roster discontinuity all complicated the USWNT’s path to victoryThe series begins well before the team touches down in New Zealand for the tournament, with much of the first and second of four episodes focusing on how then-head coach Vlatko Andonovski built the roster and how players navigated the uncertainty of their roles on the team.Andonovski was forced to find replacements for several key players, namely star striker Mal Swanson (neé Pugh) and veteran defender Becky Sauerbrunn, after injuries kept them off the field. «Being an uncapped player going into a World Cup, that never really happened.»Savannah DeMelo dribbles the ball for the USWNT.Sam Navarro-USA TODAY SportsWhile inexperience may have contributed to the USWNT’s downfall, many voices featured in the docuseries suggested that the lack of roster continuity was a more significant factor in dooming the two-time reigning champs. One such player, Savannah DeMelo, describes her shock at learning she’d be making the trip Down Under without having previously played in a single game for the national team.»When I find out, I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, are you sure? «We might’ve talked about it with family friends, but they don’t really understand what we went through, the team does.»Alyssa Thompson warms up with teammates ahead of a USWNT World Cup match.Jenna Watson-USA TODAY SportsWhen the USWNT next gathered for camp ahead of a pair of September friendlies, the group finally spoke about the World Cup experience. «But on the other hand, you recognize that as a forward, there is now a spot that is opened up and needs to be filled.»Mallory Swanson (neé Pugh) with the US Women’s National Team.Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty ImagesDue in part to those injuries, Andonovski selected a final roster featuring 14 first-time World Cup players. «They don’t wanna be the first ones sent home; they don’t want that embarrassment.»»When you’re playing from a little sense of that fear — when you’re playing not to lose —   it’s really difficult to figure out who you are and identify yourself,» she adds.Abby Wambach celebrates after winning a gold medal with the USWNT at the 2012 Olympics.REUTERS/Mike BlakePerhaps that explains why, in the opening game of the knockout round, Andonovski opted against changing the team’s formation to one more conducive to scoring goals. «And in this moment, when winning the game would make a big difference in winning the group, Vlatko Andonovski came to the conclusion that there is nothing there on that bench that is going to change the game for the better.»The apparent lack of trust in his reserves undoubtedly impacted the confidence of those 12 players who did not receive the starting nod. And, of course, Andonovski was no longer with the team.Lynn Williams (center) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during a September friendly with the USWNT.Trevor Ruszkowski/USSF/Getty Images for USSF»So on that level, you are getting some closure and you’re getting some sense of connectedness again,» Williams told BI. For «bubble» players —   those whose spots on the roster were particularly uncertain — that reality represented both a blow to the team’s strength and an opportunity to step up.»Knowing how important Mal [Swanson] is to the team is devastating,» forward Lynn Williams says in Episode 2. «But then on the other hand, you’re just like, but all my questions can’t be answered because of all these reasons of not everybody being in the room.»»I’ve come to realize you don’t get all of the closure that you want,» she added. The USWNT players managed to create more offensive opportunities against Sweden than in any of the prior three matches of the tournament, but they still couldn’t find the back of the net when it mattered most.Three weeks after the USWNT’s heartbreaking 0-0 (5-4) loss to Sweden, Williams describes mulling over what went wrong and questioning whether she could’ve done something different. «There was that moment of like, ‘I don’t know where my role is just yet,’ and that’s where it’s hard.»Abby Wambach —   the USWNT’s all-time leading scorer —   suggests early in the third episode that both the coaching staff and the players themselves had approached the group stage with fear rather than the voraciousness emblematic of national teams past. «You have this dream of what the World Cup is going to be like,» Williams says. US Women’s National Team players react after losing their 2023 World Cup Round of 16 soccer match against Sweden in a penalty shootout.AP Photo/Hamish BlairNetflix’s new docuseries following the USWNT’s 2023 World Cup journey debuted on Netflix Tuesday.The four-episode series peeks behind the curtain at what went wrong in the US’ effort to three-peat.USWNT stars Lynn Williams and Alyssa Thompson told BI about the show and how they’ve sought closure.Netflix’s new docuseries, «Under Pressure,» follows the US Women’s National Team as the two-time reigning World Cup champions look to secure an unprecedented third-consecutive title.Spoiler alert: it did not go according to plan.The Stars and Stripes suffered their earliest-ever World Cup exit after a lackluster group stage and a gutting Round of 16 loss to rival Sweden in penalty kicks. They all flew home on different flights to different final destinations immediately after the loss, leaving no time to commiserate and debrief.Alyssa Thompson, the wunderkind who made her way onto the World Cup roster at 18 years old, told Business Insider that «going home and just literally not talking about it with anyone was very hard.»»I think we all just wanted to kind of forget about it for the moment because it hurt so much, but then we didn’t really talk about it as a team,» Thompson added. He publicly came under fire for failing to use substitutes throughout much of the group stage — particularly during the USWNT’s draw vs the Netherlands.»This is the best 23 players that the US has to offer,» one commentator notes during that second group-stage match.


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