Olympic Soccer 2021: USWNT’s Stunning Loss to Sweden Headlines Day 1 Results
Ricardo Mazalan/Associated Press
The United States women’s national team delivered one of its worst performances at an international tournament on Wednesday.
The USWNT was stunned by Sweden in a 3-0 defeat to open up group play at the Tokyo Olympics.
Sweden entered the tournament as the only side to score a goal on the USWNT in 2021, and it added to its haul against the Americans three times in a stunning upset.
The manner in which Sweden defeated the USWNT sent shockwaves through the 12-team competition. The USWNT should still qualify for the eight-team knockout round, but it proved to be more vulnerable than first thought.
Brazil, the Netherlands and Great Britain reinforced their statuses as medal contenders with big wins. The Dutch delivered the biggest win with a 10-3 rout of Zambia.
If Sweden hadn’t dismantle the USWNT, Japan’s come-from-behind draw versus Canada may have received more headlines. Japan recovered from a missed penalty kick in the second half to pull out a late equalizer and a point on home soil against one of the top sides in the world.
Wednesday Olympic Soccer Results
Great Britain 2, Chile 0
Japan 1, Canada 1
Brazil 5, China 0
Netherlands 10, Zambia 3
Sweden 3, United States 0
Australia 2, New Zealand 1
Sweden 3, United States 0
The USWNT looked uncharacteristically poor over 90 minutes versus one of its top rivals for the Olympic gold medal.
Stina Blackstenius took advantage of poor marking by the USA defense to slot home the first two goals of the contest. The 25-year-old forward got in front of Abby Dahlkemper to head home the opening tally from close range in the 25th minute, and she added her second nine minutes after halftime by converting a rebound that came back off the post.
Lina Hurtig delivered the final blow to the American defense in the 74th minute. With the way the USA played, it is lucky that Sweden’s lead didn’t grow further.
Vlatko Andonovski’s side sits at the bottom of Group G after one round of play with a minus-3 goal differential that needs to be made up against Australia and New Zealand.
New Zealand’s stoppage-time goal on Wednesday did not prevent it from losing, but it could play a major role in determining the tiebreakers in Group G.
After the match, Megan Rapinoe delivered a blunt assessment of the USWNT’s poor effort, per Andrew Keh of the New York Times. “We got our asses kicked, didn’t we?” she said. “I thought we were a little tight, a little nervous, just doing dumb stuff.”
The good news for the USWNT is it has the potential safety net of potentially advancing as a third-place team from Group G.
The short turnaround of the Olympic tournament should help the USWNT erase the awful result from its memory. New Zealand is next up on Saturday. The complexion of the group could completely change if three points are earned and Sweden and Australia play to a draw in the other Group G match.
Japan 1, Canada 1
Silvia Izquierdo/Associated Press
Things can only get better for the North American women’s sides in Tokyo.
Canada let in a late equalizer to the host nation to spoil what would have been a solid opening victory. It started so well when Christine Sinclair scored her 187th international goal in the sixth minute to finish off one of Canada’s first attacking moves.
However, goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe needed to save a penalty kick for Canada in the 54th minute as the team’s fortunes changed in the second half.
Labbe was then forced off with an injury, and backup goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan out of position in the 84th minute for the equalizer. A long pass over the top of the Canadian defense found Mana Iwabuchi, and her early strike from just outside the box beat a retreating Sheridan at the near post.
Japan’s late leveler put Great Britain in the driver’s seat to win Group E. Team GB rolled past China through a pair of goals from Ellen White.
Great Britain will play Japan next, while Canada will chase its first win of the tournament against Chile, which is viewed as the weakest of the four squads in the group.
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