USWNT: What are realistic expectations?
The angst in the commentary (Team USA is struggling) I've seen has fallen into these categories:
There are many more capable teams and that is why the US is just barely getting by.
The US team has not been playing well.
Coach Ellis hasn't choosen the strongest starting 11.
Don't know which of the three explanations are more accurate and of course, it could be a combination of these factors.
Let's look at the data:
This is the seventh Women's World Cup competition.
Championship final game result:
1991 USA defeated Norway
1995 Norway defeated Germany
1999 USA defeated China
2003 Germany defeated Sweden
2007 Germany defeated Brazil
2011 Japan defeated USA
All these prior champions and runners-up have advanced to the round of 16 this year. Thus, there are a small number of teams that are very good historically and continue to be solid performers. At face value, the USA has been strong but Germany's record has been comparable. As of now, these two are the current odds on favorites for 2015 but the way the bracket is framed, USA could face Germany in the semi-final.
With the popularity of the game, the number of teams that are serious competition is greater than in the past. Experts are saying France, England, Canada, and Australia could challenge the traditional powers for spots in the final four.
We shall see! GO TEAM USA!!
UPDATE: Behind the Crest Episode 3 USWNT 2015 World Cup