by Maura Gladys
Five games, nine days and 39 goals. That’s what it took for the U.S. women’s national team to win the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying
Tournament and book their ticket to this summer’s London Olympic Games. The U.S. steamrolled the opposition, beating Dominican Republic 14-0, Guatemala 13-0, Mexico 4-0, Costa Rica 3-0 and Canada 4-0. No question, the U.S. flat out dominated. But there was a weird tone to the whole affair. From a devastating injury to a key player, to the discussion stemming from two double-digit blowouts, there really wasn’t that unabashed joy and celebration that we saw at last summer’s World Cup. A few key takeaways from the tournament:
Just 40 minutes into the tournament, right back Ali Krieger fell victim to an unnecessary tackle from Dominican Republic that completely tore her right ACL and partially tore her right MCL, sidelining her for the foreseeable future and throwing an appearance at the Olympic Games into question.
The injury is a crushing blow to the USWNT. Krieger is the best right back in the world, and her absence, no matter who fills that slot, will be felt. One of the most dependable players on the field, Krieger paired with Heather O’Reilly can consistently dominate the right side.
Sundhage was able to cover up Krieger’s absence on the fly with a variety of players including Heather Mitts, Rachel Buehler and Kelley O’Hara. But moving forward, Sundhage will have to do some serious searching to find Krieger’s replacement. Mitts had a solid tournament but the 33-year-old’s best days are behind her. O’Hara showed promise, but will need more time to acclimate to the position. Becky Sauerbrunn is another potential candidate. A natural center back, Sauerbrunn has the ability to make the switch, and also brings a calming, even-keeled demeanor similar to Krieger’s.