The Swede, who was assistant coach to China at the 2007 Women's World Cup, suggests that it's no longer realistic to expect the U.S. women to dominate like they did during the 1990s. "The game itself has developed tremendously," she says, pointing to the marked improvement in teams' defending over the last 10 years. For many women, soccer is only just becoming popular in their countries. "That means you have more teams, more countries that are looking for a gold medal," she says. So by extension, it will become harder to win every year.
In particular, Sundhage says she'll work on the quality of the U.S. team's possession, a deficiency that many pointed to during the Americans' 2007 World Cup campaign. "When you're comfortable with the ball, you can dictate the tempo. Nowadays, the defending is so good that you have to dictate the tempo; sometimes speed it up, sometimes slow it down. That's something that we want to work on."