Alex Morgan lays out reasons that USWNT can put World Cup struggles behind them

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Alex Morgan has defended the USWNT after their mixed start to the Women
Alex Morgan has defended the USWNT after their mixed start to the Women's World Cup amid criticism from various quarters. (Image: Alex Grimm - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Alex Morgan has insisted the USWNT can rally to prove their critics wrong in the World Cup knockout stages after their struggles earlier in the competition.

Morgan has formed part of her country's all-conquering teams at the last two tournaments, taking home winners' medals in 2015 and 2019. However,the team has flattered to deceive in Australia and New Zealand as they failed to win their group for the first time since 2011.

Taking five points from a possible nine in their three games at that phase in the tournament, the Stars and Stripes were far from convincing as they qualified by the skin of their teeth in their final group clash. Needing a point versus Portugal to advance, they managed to play out at 0-0 stalemate but they were probably lucky to not concede late on in the encounter.

Deep into injury time, the Portuguese were unfortunate to not take the lead as a strike from Ana Capeta beat Alyssa Naeher before striking the woodwork. Vlatko Andonovski's team got the draw they needed to book their place in the knockouts.

Morgan has admitted that things did not exactly go to plan during the group stages for the USWNT, explaining that their tactical set-up has needed some work on the training pitch in the time since. The 34-year-old stated: "We've broken down what went wrong.

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"How we can fix that in possession, out of possession -- how we can capitalize on the chances we have in front of goal, how we can create more chances, how I can put away the chances I'm given."

Opponents in the Round of 16 of the tournament are Sweden, who are ranked third in the world, and have beaten the USWNT twice in tournament football in recent memory. Although the US got the better of their next opponents at the last World Cup, they were beaten by the Swedes at the 2021 Olympics group stage and were eliminated by them from the 2016 Olympics.

Alex Morgan lays out reasons that USWNT can put World Cup struggles behind themThe USA struggled through their group at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and have attracted detractors as a result (Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

However, the 210-time international was resolute in her belief that previous encounters with their former adversaries will not come into the thoughts of this year's team ahead of this latest clash.

"What's happened against Sweden in the past is in the past," she said.

"We obviously take away a lot of things in terms of their playing style and how to break them down, but I don't think that there's any feelings towards the games we played against them in the past that we're bringing into tomorrow."

Echoing Morgan's thoughts, head coach Andonovski issued a rally cry to his ailing team as they look to find their groove after they came perilously close to an early exit. He added: "It's the knockout stage and there's no room for mistakes, so we have to be ready to be our best in this game,

Tom Beattie

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