FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023
Host Nations: Australia and New Zealand Dates: July 20-August 20
Coverage: Available live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sounds, and the Sport News Center website & application. Detailed coverage information;
The globally top-ranked team hasn’t lived up to the hype in the tournament, narrowly advancing to the last 16 via a tie against the debutant team, Portugal.
This sparked a wave of criticism from fans and former players, including double World Cup winner for the USA, Carli Lloyd, who claimed the team’s strategies were “too predictable”.
Responding to these remarks, Horan stated, “It’s just noise,” on Friday.
Lloyd, also a two-time Olympic gold medalist, criticized coach Vlatko Andonovski’s squad for “performing as individuals” after the four-time world title holders barely escaped an early exit at the hands of the Portuguese team, who hit the post during the added time.
Naming “the post” as the match’s best player, she told Fox Sports, “They’re fortunate they’re not on their way home.”
Lloyd has since defended her statements and added, “It’s not about wanting to win anymore. No, we desire everything that accompanies victory, and we believe we can effortlessly secure wins.
“That’s not the reality, and other teams recognize that. They perceive the arrogance of the US and understand that they aren’t an invincible squad. They see that they can be defeated.
“There are too many distractions. There’s an excessive focus on follower counts or participating in photoshoots and similar activities.
“I’m not against enjoying the perks that come along, but humility must be maintained throughout the process, because they almost got eliminated from the World Cup.”
‘Predictable’ and ‘lackluster’ – What’s next for USA?
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Horan found Lloyd’s comments “somewhat frustrating”. She spoke from Auckland, New Zealand, on Thursday before the US team’s flight to Melbourne, Australia, for the upcoming Sunday match against Sweden at 10:00 BST.
“We’re trying our best to ignore the criticism as much as possible – but also utilizing it as motivation because we’re going to compete and do whatever it takes to win this game as we did in previous World Cups,” the midfielder added.
“I always aim to stand up for my team and say you’re clueless about what happens behind the scenes. You’re oblivious to our daily training routines, both individual and collective, so it’s a bit upsetting when someone questions our mentality.
“But ultimately, it doesn’t truly matter. I couldn’t care less. What matters is what happens within the team and gearing up for the next match.
“It’s a fresh tournament starting from now.”
Carli Lloyd disapproved of the post-match celebrations of US players, who were seen dancing and grinning after barely staving off an early exit from the World Cup.
‘We need to rediscover joy’
Following consecutive ties against the Netherlands and Portugal, Horan said the United States needs to “rediscover the joy” that has been lacking in their World Cup performance.
“Once we bring back some of that joy, things will likely improve on the pitch,” she commented.
“One thing I’ve constantly reminded the team is that pressure is a privilege.
“We’ve managed to advance, and certainly, we aim to enhance our performance and amuse our fans more.
“Expectations will always be high and we’ll continually find ourselves under pressure, and we relish that.”
Lynn Williams, a 30-year-old forward experiencing her first World Cup, asserted there was no panic amidst the criticism.
“Sometimes, the desire to perform well can make you forget the joy,” Williams added.
“We need to return to what makes us exceptional. There’s significant pressure sometimes, but there’s a human element to that as well.”