Team USA’s women’s water polo coach, Adam Krikorian, has always been a straight shooter. However, he was pretty blunt last week, admitting to the Associated Press that his current USA team is not at the level of his previous Olympic-winning squads.
“To be quite frank, this team isn’t as good. They hate it when I tell them that, but it’s the truth,” he told AP News’s Jay Cohen. “We’re not as good as we once were. We don’t have as much offensive firepower, and we don’t have as balanced an attack as before.”
Ultimately, Team USA’s extraordinary run – which Krikorian himself described as a ‘make-believe run of results’ last month – speaks for itself. They added 15 consecutive world titles to their cabinet, including three Olympic gold medals.
However, Krikorian’s comments come after an obvious (and relative) period of decline for Team USA since last November, where they failed to retain the World League Super Finals title for the first time since 2013, before finishing 5th in Fukuoka at the World Championships, having taken gold at the previous four competitions. Fukuoka was the first time that the USA women failed to medal in a major event since the 2013 World Championships in Spain.
Reflecting on Fukuoka, Krikorian continued with an honest assessment of his team’s shape. “We had some good days from an offensive standpoint or an efficiency standpoint on our power play during the summer,” he said. “But we also had some moments where we really struggled, and so it didn’t come out of the blue.”
Despite the team’s shortcomings, Krikorian is still confident that his team can get back on the horse and continue to achieve top results while going through a rebuild. “I think this group is fabulous regarding their selflessness and their commitment to each other,” he said. “They are a fantastic group of people that I know will really enjoy this process. I don’t think it’s going to be difficult for this team to find that happiness and joy, even through the difficult times.”
The USA women’s national team can secure Olympic qualification in October with a gold medal at the Pan-American games in Santiago, Chile.