The U.S. Women's National Team is moving to the World Cup's knockout stages after topping the so-called group of death.
And for this U.S. Women's team, the stakes are high — one slip-up could eliminate the team, largely made up of a core group of players over the age of 30. With the World Cup every four years, that could be costly. (Video via Fox Sports)
Defender Christie Rampone, 39; forward Abby Wambach, 35; and goalkeeper Hope Solo, 33 are just a few of the stars making big contributions to the women's team.
Rampone, the oldest player to appear in a Women's World Cup match, is also the only active player remaining from the 1999 team, the last time the U.S. won the Women's World Cup.
The No. 2-ranked team in the world certainly has the talent to make a run, but if they don't make it happen this year, a large majority of the elite team could go without winning a World Cup.
A writer for USA Today says: "There's a very real possibility that [many of the] 30-somethings ... all could end their careers without ever winning a World Cup title. Think about that. Some of the most illustrious names to ever play the game, and they'd leave without winning the biggest prize of all."
The team is already suffering from a regression in offense from 2011. They've scored just four goals in three games at this point.
Wambach's been a key to the offense this year and in years past but has seen her playing time take a hit. She came off the bench in the 0-0 draw against Sweden, a game against former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage. In pregame comments, Sundhage said she would've played Wambach off the bench regularly if she was still coaching the U.S. team. (Video via Gatorade)
Complicating matters for the U.S.' offense, as SB Nation points out, is a less-than-stellar midfield. "There's no fix for this — the USWNT left all of their good central midfielders at home. ... This is a permanent problem."
Still, if the team can keep things going for the whole tournament, the group of seasoned veterans will be able to grab the U.S.' third World Cup, a first for many on the elite team. The U.S. Women's National Team continue their road to the World Cup final June 22.
This video includes images from Getty Images and music from Aviscerall / CC BY NC 4.0