Sweden Beats USA 3-0 in Olympic Football Openers

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CHOFU, Japan – They waited five years for this game.

It’s been five years since Sweden crushed hopes of the United States women’s soccer team for an Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio Games. Five years have passed since a defeat that forced Americans to look in the mirror and ask tough questions about their age and sovereignty.

Wait five years and come back to the same place.

The United States opened the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday just as they finished the Rio Games five years ago: on the wrong end of a humbling, embarrassing defeat against Sweden. Then there was a loss on penalties in the quarterfinals; this time the result was much sooner and not nearly as close: Sweden 3, United States 0. But the pain and explanation that led to the defeat was just as real.

“Sounds like a big deal,” defender Kelley O’Hara said on Tuesday of Wednesday’s rematch. “It feels like the Olympics. That’s what we’ve been waiting for five years to come back to here.”

They never expected it to end like this.

The defeat was the Americans’ first win in 24 games under Coach. Vlatko Andonovskyand for the first time against any opponent after losing to France in January 2019. And that will force them to struggle to recover in the Olympic tournament. Quick consecutive matches are expected against New Zealand and Australia in the first round, and tougher opponents such as England and the Netherlands can expect in the medal round.

But first the Americans will have to figure out what went wrong at Tokyo Stadium.

Striker Stina Blackstenius scored for Sweden in both halves on Wednesday, scoring a glimpse in the 25th minute and what felt like a fair reward for a dominant Swedish attack that swept the Americans on their heels in the 54th minute. like the opening minutes of the game.

The United States, under pressure again and again, has tried everything to turn the situation around. Carli Lloyd and Julie Ertz – in their first game in months – came in at halftime, and Megan Rapinoe came in after about 20 minutes. In the Americans’ view, even Blackstenius’ departure in the 64th minute did not help; His replacement continued where he left off with an open header, eight minutes later for Sweden’s third goal.

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