LeBron James gesture to USWNT speaks volumes ahead of Women's World Cup clash

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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James

NBA superstar LeBron James was spotted in Canada over the weekend wearing a U.S. Women's National Team jersey ahead of the team's knockout-stage match against Sweden on Sunday.

James is a dedicated supporter of the USWNT, often sharing about their success on social media. In particular, James was vocal during their victorious 2019 World Cup campaign.

In February, when James became the all-time leading scorer in the NBA, he received congratulations from many notable athletes, including USWNT star Alex Morgan, who shared her good wishes on social media. Morgan was also the first subject of the Disney documentary series "Becoming," produced by James.

The Los Angeles Lakers forward has always shown a strong passion for soccer, most notably with his ownership in the English Premier League club Liverpool. James also witnessed Lionel Messi's MLS debut with Inter Miami in July and warmly embraced the 2022 FIFA Men's World Cup champion before the game.

The USWNT's recent decline shocked the American public, causing concern during the 2023 World Cup. The team's 0-0 draw with Portugal left them on the verge of not advancing beyond the tournament's group stage.

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In Group E of the competition, the USWNT secured the second position in the standings, accumulating five points. The Netherlands progressed to the next stage as the group's top team, earning seven points. But they retain the support of big names such as James as they eye another victory in the competition.

The USWNT faces multiple challenges, ranging from tactical and technical issues to systemic and random occurrences. However, the main contributors to their struggles in the 2023 World Cup can be attributed to three key factors: a flawed youth development system, injuries to several top players, and the coach, Vlatko Andonovski, who has been criticized for not fully maximizing the potential of the healthy players.

LeBron James gesture to USWNT speaks volumes ahead of Women's World Cup clashAlex Morgan after the USWNT's group stage performances (Alex Grimm - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

The suspension of creative midfielder Rose Lavelle due to an accumulation of yellow cards has presented an opportunity for Coach Andonovski to reassess and rethink his entire approach to the team's strategy. Her absence will likely prompt adjustments and tactical considerations for the upcoming knockout stages.

After a disappointing group stage performance, the U.S. women's national team heads into the knockout stage of the Women's World Cup, appearing far from the dominant squad that secured victory in the tournament four years ago.

Before the tournament, the U.S. Women's National Team was the favored winner, with sportsbooks offering odds around +250. However, their performance has caused a shift, and England is now the favorite with odds of +275 to claim the Women's World Cup title.

The U.S. team's standing has slipped to a co-second choice with Spain, both having odds of +450. The Round of 16 clash will mark the 43rd encounter between the USA and Sweden, making Sweden the fourth-most frequently faced an opponent in USWNT history, trailing behind Canada, China PR, and Norway.

The USA has held the upper hand in the all-time series since 1987, with 23 wins, 12 draws, and seven losses. However, in the last ten matches, the teams have been evenly matched, with the USA securing four wins, four draws, and two losses.

Notably, nine of the last ten meetings have been decided by a margin of two goals or fewer.

Rory Robinson

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