Mia Hamm Says U.S. Women's Soccer Team 'Extremely Committed to One Another' Despite Olympic Loss
"You can't play perfect all the time, and they're such professionals, they'll be fine," Mia Hamm tells PEOPLE
The U.S. women’s soccer team‘s dream of Olympic gold ended on Friday after a heartbreaking loss to Sweden.
Following a 1-1 draw during the tournament quarterfinals, Team U.S.A. lost to Sweden 4-3 in penalty kicks – ending their three-time Olympic winning streak since the 2004 Athens Games. If they had won the finals, the U.S. women would have made history by becoming the first county to win Olympic gold while holding the title of world champions.
“They’ll be fine,” Hamm, 1996 and 2004 Olympic gold medalist, told PEOPLE. “You can’t play perfect all the time, and they’re such professionals, they’ll be fine. They have so many veterans on that team that are experienced and the coaching staff will have them ready to play.”
“I believe they’re just going to continue to get better through the tournament. Obviously you know what’s at stake – you lose, you go home.”
But unfortunately, for the U.S. women’s national team, they will be going home.
Hamm says many of the 2016 women’s soccer teams competing in Rio are incredibly “invested” this year, which ultimately ups the level of competition.
“The level of play and the passion with which these players are playing, you can see it,” she says. “You’re having full-time coaching at different levels, of course U.S., but [other] countries as well now.”
On the U.S. team, Hamm is particularly impressed with the play of Olympic newbies Lindsay Horan and Mallory Pugh.
“I was so excited to see how a lot of the youngsters did!” she says. “I think they are going to continue to develop and find spots on the team.”
And of beloved team member Megan Rapinoe, Hamm says it’s been great to “see her back on the field” after a torn ACL injury.
“She’s so much the heart of the team, not just on the field but off the field,” says Hamm. “She plays with the motion and her personality is so strong.”
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The U.S. women return home empty handed but the close-knit team sees a silver lining.
“Today’s loss will make winning that much sweeter. Learn, grow, and never forget,” Tweeted Alex Morgan after the loss.
“They’re extremely committed to one another,” explains Hamm. “And to soccer.”