In the weeks leading up to the 2012 London Games, Team USA Field Hockey coach Lee Bodimeade was certain his team learned from its mistakes four years ago in Beijing, resulting in an eighth place finish.
“I had a feeling we were [just] happy to be there rather than be successful,” Bodimeade told me.
Obviously, that wasn’t the case. London has been a complete nightmare for the U.S., who was looking for its first podium finish in nearly three decades.
Bodimeade felt strongly about his talented group heading into London, and he had every reason to. His team punched their ticket to London by shocking the perennial powerhouse and 2012 World champion Argentina 4-2 in the final of the XVI Pan American Games last fall.
The U.S. carried that momentum over to the London Games. After falling to Germany in their first match of the tournament, Team USA stunned Argentina once more, 1-0. It was perhaps the most historic victory ever by the U.S. It gave fans something to cheer for, something to look forward to. Team USA proved they could go head-to-head with the biggest, toughest and fastest teams in the world.
Shockingly, that would be the final promising story line for the U.S., who dropped three straight, including the worst loss in history, a 7-0 spanking from South Africa.
The U.S. fell just short of defeating or forcing a draw against Australia (1-0) and New Zealand (3-2), who eliminated them from medalling. The aftermath from those heartbreaking losses was dreadful. And the on-field performances turned from ripe to sour in the snap of a finger.
With nothing left to play for, except for pride, the U.S. had trouble doing just that. The offense was as inefficient as the St. Louis Rams’ red-zone offense over the past few seasons.
And the defense was plain pitiful.
Watching the match, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for U.S. goalkeeper Amy Swensen, who was continuously bombarded with shots from every direction without much, if any help from her defense.
There isn’t much else that can go wrong for this U.S. team, who will play Belgium in the final match of the tournament with the loser earning last place among the field of 12 teams.