Becky Sauerbrunn said the disappointment the U.S. women’s national team suffered at the 2016 Rio Olympics motivates the team to go to the Tokyo Games.

Five years ago, the US lost to Sweden on penalties in the quarter-finals in Brazil after Stina Blackstenius and Alex Morgan drew in the second half. “I think what happened in 2016 was one of the worst results the senior team had in a major tournament, and from that game I know how disappointed we all were,” said Sauerbrunn, who lead the team in Tokyo becomes. “For me it lit a fire that will go into the 2019 World Cup and here for 2020 too.”

Fittingly, the USA’s first game this time will take place on Wednesday against Sweden, in which the world champions and third place in the World Cup in Group G will be brought together. “They have dynamic strikers, they are also quite physical, they are a good size, so I’m looking forward to the fight,” said Sauerbrunn. “Whenever we play against Sweden, especially for our defense, it’s a fight. Blackstenius and Sofia Jakobsson are good strikers so it will be a test and I love challenges. “

One advantage the US has over any other team in the tournament is that the team played 12 times in 2021, more than any other team in the competition. “I would say that our team is very happy to have played as many games as we did because it is very difficult to recreate a game scenario,” said Sauerbrunn.

“You can train as much as you want and you can play against each other, but it’s not exactly the same as an international match. It allowed us to develop chemistry, work on tactics, and really dig into the details that were so important. So it gives us an advantage, but I also say that in a tournament you never know what is going to happen. “

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There are unknowns in tournament football, but the solid defensive that coach Vlatko Andonovski has built since taking over from Jill Ellis means the US has fewer surprises. The team has only scored four goals since winning the 2019 World Cup. The secret, according to Sauerbrunn, is that “every single player who plays has to make a defensive shift”.

“So it’s not just the defense and the goalkeeper, it starts at the top, they are our first defenders. The work that we put into every facet of defense, be it high block, low block, defense in the box, we played it through over and over and we also saw many Powerpoint presentations on it. We go into the nitty-gritty details and I think that helped so much. We haven’t given up much, but when we do, we’ll see it, we’ll break it down to make sure it doesn’t happen again. “