The Soccer Show: Preview of Women’s World Cup knockout rounds with Ex-Breakers Midfielder Rachel Wood
The U.S. Women’s National Team may be busy competing on the other side of the world, but they have undoubtedly been hearing the noise from the American soccer media after surviving a disappointing group stage. The four-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champions, in search of an unprecedented third consecutive world title, begin the knockout rounds on Sunday morning at 5:00 a.m. ET against Sweden.
DJ Bean welcomed former Boston Breakers midfielder Rachel Wood onto The Soccer Show to break down the team’s performance thus far and provide a glimpse into the upcoming action from down under in the Round of 16.
“This has been a very interesting and strange World Cup,” Wood told Bean about the flurry of upsets coming out of the opening round.
“I think we’re seeing a couple of things happen. Obviously, the United States, which has been such a dominant presence on the women’s soccer stage, we’re seeing that the other countries are starting to equalize. We’re no longer the biggest, the fastest, or most athletic. And we’re seeing a lot of other teams start putting money into the development of players overseas, and we’re seeing a lot of development in some of these women’s teams.”
Wood, who still resides in Boston after her three-year stint with the Breakers, has seen a noticeable closing of the gap between the global women’s soccer powerhouse and the rest of the field.
“What’s happening now is the footballing minds plus the athleticism is really creating some difficulties for the United States,” Wood said. “We look like a bunch of individuals out there playing against teams. We look like we don’t have a gameplan. We look scared, we look hesitant, we look like we didn’t show up to come and play on the world stage.”
The Stars and Stripes know that advancing to the sweet 16 is nothing to write home about, as their decades-long dominance over the competition has set expectations much higher. Wood is eager to see a more tenacious effort from the Americans when they fight for their World Cup lives early on Sunday morning.
“There’s been a lot of criticism and kind of uproar about the way that this team has played. Everyone who has been a fan of the national team for so long has been used to the United States dominating. Now, not only are we not dominating, but we struggled to get through the group play. It’s something that the U.S. hasn’t faced before,” Wood commented. “This team is a team that has so much heart and I feel like we haven’t seen that yet. We haven’t seen that fight and that grit, and the United States is known for that.
“Great teams find a way to win, even when they aren’t playing well. The U.S. has done their job. They got through the group phase. Now, it’s going to be a true test of can they step up and get it done?”