Last summer, one of the main themes of the U.S. women’s national team’s performance at the Olympics centered around joy. Or rather, the apparent lack of it. Whether it was the strangeness of lockdowns and empty stadiums, or the lack of time to build chemistry, or the adjustment period with head coach Vlatko Andonovski at his first major tournament, or some other reason or a combination of all of them, the USWNT looked flat and uninspired for significant spells of their time in Tokyo. The door opened significantly to the creeping fear that the world was catching up ahead of the 2023 World Cup and an attempted three-peat.
On Friday night, four days after the release of the full findings from U.S. Soccer’s independent investigation led by former deputy attorney general Sally Q. Yates, joy wasn’t just an important ingredient for the potential success of the team; it became a concept to cling to, to find a moment’s respite from an extraordinarily heavy week.
“I’d be lying if I said we were doing well,” Crystal Dunn told assembled reporters on Wednesday before training. “We’re getting through it. I think a lot of us are trying to find joy in playing this game.”
GO DEEPEREngland and the USA sent out a message that can’t be ignored
Every player on the team was navigating it differently, she said — some were able to separate the work from the news, to focus on one training at a time. Dunn said she personally tried to navigate everything at once. “I find joy in playing the game, but I also know that there are things bigger than training and this game coming up, that really matter and they deserve our attention as well.
- USWNT’s loss to England was a major test, and an exercise in clinging to joy
- Check all news and articles from the latest Soccer updates.