The US Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) entered their first game of the Tokyo Olympics with plans for payback, only to be struck down by the Swedish national team in an all-too-familiar but still shocking turn of events. Despite being the number one ranked women’s soccer team in the world and the favorites to win gold at this year’s Games, the USWNT fell 3-0 to Sweden on Wednesday, effectively ending their 44-game winning streak. In a disappointing opener, the USWNT began the 2021 Olympics the same way they ended the 2016 Olympics: with a loss to Sweden.
Sweden completely dominated the US from start to finish, with striker Stina Blackstenius scoring two goals, one in each half. Ranked number 5 in the world, Sweden has become the USWNT’s biggest rival in recent years. In the 2016 Rio Olympics, they beat the US in the quarterfinals, handing them the earliest US Olympic exit ever.
“We got our a**** kicked, didn’t we?” Megan Rapinoe said after the game. “Just a little tight, just a little nervous. We had a few chances that we could have taken better that would have shifted the game quite a bit.”
According to the New York Times, this loss was the Americans’ first in 24 games under Coach Vlatko Andonovski and their first against any opponent since a loss to France in January 2019. Recovering from a loss this bad this early in the tournament may prove to be difficult, as the USWNT will be forced to scramble to regain their balance and momentum after a disastrous Olympic opener.
“We’ve got ourselves into this mess,” USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn said. “Now, it’s our responsibility to get ourselves out of it.”
Despite a less-than-great first game, the US still has their eyes on the gold medal. They are not a team that should be dismissed after a singular loss. With Olympic and World Cup veterans like Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, and Megan Rapinoe on the roster, the US is certainly still a huge contender for the gold medal. However, they will need to examine their sub-par performance in the first game and figure out how they can improve their offensive game in particular.
While they express disappointment in their performances, the women of this US team seem to be fully prepared to face the improvement and amount of hard work ahead of them.
“Bad night tonight,” Sauerbrunn said. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”
This game has changed the USWNT’s perspective, outlook, and mindset entering the Tokyo Olympics. The classic American confidence is still there, but after the humbling loss, they seem to be excited and focused on improving themselves before their next match on Saturday. Will the US women win gold at these Olympic Games? We certainly hope so! Make sure to tune in on Saturday to watch the USWNT take on New Zealand!