Last time the US fielded a field hockey team at the Olympics was in Atlanta--and that's because they, as home team, didn't have to qualify. But a good friend of mine who tried out for the team said the US was not really competitive internationally.
Things may be changing. Having qualified for the Beijing games, the US has made a little bit of noise by tying Argentina in the first round of play. Argentina is ranked 2nd internationally.
This is just a guess but I am thinking that the emergence of intercollegiate field hockey, due largely to Title IX, may have something to do with the strengthening of the the US in world play.
Looking at the US roster it is easy to see which schools are field hockey powerhouses. I was actually surprised there wasn't a little more regional diversity.
Stay tuned for more potential (near) upsets,