The US women’s busy schedule gives them an edge over their Olympic rivals


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How do you prepare for a big tournament? Practice makes perfect, they say. And yet the British squad haven’t played a single game together all year long. It would be strange not to worry about their readiness for next month’s women’s soccer tournament at the Olympics.

Yes, 15 of the 18 players in the UK squad all play for England and 10 are Manchester City players, which will help keep the team together. Even so, England has only played three international matches since the SheBelieves Cup tournament in March 2020.

In stark contrast, the United States played 11 games over the same period. They played three games this month alone – they’re not the only ones. Holland and Sweden also have 11 points, while Brazil and Canada each have seven. In fact, of all 12 teams that travel to Tokyo, every country bar in New Zealand has played more games than the UK.

With two more friendly matches planned for the beginning of July in the USA, the reigning world champion has a big advantage over his Olympic rivals.

Sure, there is a huge combination of mitigating factors behind the shocking lack of gaming in the UK – many of them related to Covid-19. Hege Riise’s only GB warm-up game that was supposed to take place against Zambia this Thursday has now been canceled.

This news came after complications related to the Zambian cadre’s entry requirements into the UK, with their home country on the UK “red” list and their quarantine locations being temporarily moved from “green” to “yellow”. There was little the British Olympic Federation and Football Association could do, and behind the scenes there is hope that the UK can host an alternative warm-up competition in Tokyo instead.

However, the fact that the US is playing far more games than its rivals is nothing new and not just specific to the time of the pandemic. Take, for example, the period between the end of the 2019 World Cup and the start of the SheBelieves Cup 2020, when the USA beat England 2-0 on March 6, 2020. During that time England played six times, which was pretty normal for a large European nation. The Americans have now played twelve, seven of which were friendlies.

This trend is pretty commonplace in modern times. It’s not uncommon for the US to play more than 20 times a year. Looking back on 2016, they played 25 games, including 13 friendlies, while England played a total of 12 games in the same calendar year.

It is this extensive and almost indefatigable program of international matches that explains why a player like legendary striker Carli Lloyd has made 304 caps, more than twice as many as Jill Scott’s 151 caps for England, despite the fact that the two made their international debut at. celebrated around the same time.

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