The US Women’s National Team (USWNT) has experienced a reality check at the 2023 Women’s World Cup, following their thrilling consecutive title wins in previous editions. The team’s performance so far in the tournament has been underwhelming, and they came dangerously close to being knocked out during a tense 0-0 draw with Portugal.

The match against Portugal had hearts racing among US fans as the four-time world champions struggled to find their usual dominance. Portugal was unfortunate not to pull off a major upset, with Ana Capeta’s shot hitting the post in the dying minutes of the game.

The lackluster performances in the group stage have been a cause for concern for the historically dominant USWNT. Head coach Vlatko Andonovski acknowledged that the team did not play well against Portugal, while USWNT great Julie Foudy pointed out a lack of chemistry within the squad.

The USWNT’s three matches in this tournament represent their worst group-stage performance in World Cup history. Their goal-scoring woes have been a major factor in their struggles. Alex Morgan, a key player in the team, listed the lack of clinical finishing as the main cause of their disappointing results.

In the 2019 World Cup, the US scored an impressive 18 goals in the group-stage matches. In contrast, they managed only four goals in this year’s edition, with 13 of those coming in a dominant win against Thailand. The goalless draw with Portugal was the first time since 2015 that the team failed to score in a World Cup game.

The 2023 Women’s World Cup has shown a leveling up in the women’s game, with teams becoming more competitive and narrowing the gap against traditional powerhouses. Although there have been some wide-margin victories, they do not compare to the humbling 13-0 defeat of Thailand by the US in the previous edition.

The USWNT’s squad has seen a transition, with a blend of experienced players like Megan Rapinoe and Morgan and a host of young talents looking to make their mark. Andonovski has been working to integrate these new players into the team, which may have impacted their usual ruthless efficiency.

Injuries have also affected the team’s performance, with several key players like Mallory Swanson, Christen Press, and Tobin Heath, among others, unable to play. Despite these challenges, the USWNT remains one of the strongest teams in the tournament, and their pursuit of a third consecutive title is still on the cards.

US women’s soccer fans, known for their enthusiastic support, have shown nerves during the tournament. Compared to previous matches, the atmosphere in the stadium during the draw against Portugal was relatively subdued, and the tension seemed to affect the crowd’s vociferousness.

Criticism from former USWNT stars, including Carli Lloyd, has been scathing, with concerns raised about the team’s commitment and lackluster performance. Coach Andonovski defended his team, emphasizing their determination and willingness to compete.

Winning three consecutive World Cup titles is a monumental challenge for any team, and the USWNT faces stiff competition and a rarer level of pressure. The team is attempting to achieve what no other nation, in either men’s or women’s football, has done before.