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BULLETIN: June 18, 2015 — Argentina 3, United States 0

The United States has shown a propensity to be a very streaky team in the last decade and a half.

When the team is on form, as it was from the 2011 Pan American Games to its fourth-place finish at the FIH World Cup last year, it has been very good.

But the fifth-ranked team in the world has picked a very bad time to have an offensive power outage. Shut out for the second straight match in a row during the FIH World League semifinals, the United States’ 3-0 loss to Argentina this morning puts the Americans in the same situation as two years ago in the World League, which was one of the two qualifications avenues to the World Cup.

The United States needs to win Saturday’s consolation semifinal against Ireland to have any chance whatsoever of making the 2016 Olympics through the World League system. The States can only finish as high as fifth, which would necessitate at least three (or perhaps four) World League top-three teams having to win their respective continental qualification tournaments to make the Olympics. Alternatively, the United States could simply win the Pan American Games in Toronto in just four weeks time.

But given some of the basic mistakes on the part of the team — mistraps, ill-hit passes, a lack of imagination in the offensive third, and at least one shocking giveaway — that might not be in the cards.

One incident in the second quarter of the Argentina game typified the game. The U.S. gifted Argentina possession from a side-in about 30 yards from the goal line. Argentina’s Carla Rebecchi seized the opportunity and acres of open space in the circle, drawing U.S. goalie Jackie Briggs out and sinking a reverse chip from the tightest of angles.

It was a goal less than two minutes from halftime; the worst kind to concede from a mental standpoint.

While the U.S. won’t be qualifying for the Olympics directly through the World League, it would behoove the United States to beat Ireland and then the fifth-place game, then hope that Argentina finishes in the top three in the Valencia World League Semifinal.

That would mean that if Argentina wins the Pan American Games, and if Korea is able to finish in the top three in its World League semifinal later this summer, all it would take is one more already-qualified top-three team in the World League to win its continental championship for the United States to make the Rio Olympics if Argentina beats the U.S. in Toronto next month.

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