Sweden Just Embarrassed The USWNT In Olympic Opener And It Wasn’t Even Close

While you were sleeping, so too was the USWNT.

The USWNT is the undisputed greatest team of all time in women’s soccer with four World Cups and four Olympic gold medals. But for 90 minutes in Tokyo on Wednesday, the U.S. was absolutely hammered, as longtime rival Sweden outclassed Team USA 3-0 in the Group G opener in the 2020 Olympics.

And no, that score is not a typo. And yes, it could have been much, much worse.

Sweden dominated the U.S. from start to finish, ending the USWNT’s 44-game unbeaten streak. The fifth-ranked team in the world, which held the defending world champs to a 1-1 draw in April, was far and away the better side Wednesday at Tokyo Stadium, never allowing the U.S. a moment to breath, let alone chances to get into the match.

As bad as the 3-0 score line looks for Americans waking up to the news, it could have been far worse if not for the heroics of Alyssa Naeher in goal. Stina Blackstenius scored twice and Lina Hurtig added the third as Vlatko Andonovski suffered his first defeat as USWNT coach. 

Sweden is no stranger to causing the U.S. pain in the Olympics. Five years ago it was the Swedes who knocked the Americans out in the Olympic quarterfinals, the only time the U.S. has failed to medal in women’s soccer.

So bad was the performance from the Americans that coach Andonovski took out ever-present defender Crystal Dunn late in the match to rest her for the next match, which will be Saturday against New Zealand. Before then, the U.S. will have to figure out how to regroup from such a comprehensive defeat.

USWNT vs Sweden Highlights

The USWNT was on the back foot from the opening minute, immediately unable to deal with Sweden’s press. Americans repeatedly made poor passes out of the back, playing the ball straight to the opposition and rarely able to push forward. Sweden racked up five corners in just 16 minutes, with Naeher making two big saves early to keep things scoreless. 

The match didn’t stay scoreless long, as Sweden’s ninth shot in the 25th minute snuck past Naeher when Sofia Jakobsson found Stina Blackstenius for a near-post header.

The goal didn’t satisfy Sweden or wake the Americans up. Five minutes later Dunn needed to make a stellar last-ditch tackle to prevent what surely would have been a second goal.

Such was Sweden’s dominance, the U.S. was relieved when the halftime whistle came and the deficit was just 1-0. While Rose Lavelle hit the post with a header late in the half, the USWNT never found any rhythm offensively.

Andonovski made two changes at halftime trying to change things up, yanking Alex Morgan and Sam Mewis for Carli Lloyd and Julie Ertz. When Ertz rolled up her sleeves in the Japan summer heat, there was a sense that maybe this was when the U.S. would rally and get back in the game. Instead, the opposite happened.

Always dangerous on set pieces, Sweden capitalized on one of its nine corners in the 54th minute, with Blackstenius left wide open at the back post to make it 2-0.

Megan Rapinoe came on to replace Tobin Heath and immediately provided a spark. She set up Christen Press for what looked like a tap-in, but the cross caromed off Press and off the post.

Not long later, Sweden put the match away through Lina Hurtig, who was left wide open in the middle of the box. 

There’s no doubt Sweden deserved every bit of its 3-0 win. Though the USWNT eventually finished with more possession (52-48), the Swedes put nine shots on target compared to just five for the Americans. 

Time will tell how the U.S. puts this embarrassment behind them. With another game in just three days, there’s no time to dwell and an immediate chance for redemption. 

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