One difficult thing about being one of the world's women's soccer powers is that it’s hard to gauge where you stand at any given moment.
The United States women's national team is coming off the worst fall in its recent history. Losses in October of last year to England and Spain in Europe and at home to Germany in November gave the team its first three-game losing streak in nearly 30 years. A 71-game home unbeaten streak was lost. Two of the teams the U.S. beat on the way to claiming its most recent World Cup title got their revenge in a four-day span.
And yet, the Americans rebounded to beat Germany in the next game, ticking that home soil streak back over to one. It beat Olympic gold medalists Canada – the last team to defeat it in a major tournament – this summer in the finals of the Concacaf W Championship, its last competitive match. It went 14-1-3 for the year, which in any world where the team hadn't just spent a decade setting impossibly high expectations, would be considered a success. It can feel a little bit silly to say the offense isn't working the way it needs to be when it scored five or more goals five times this year or to express concerns about a defense that kept nine straight shutouts in the spring and summer.