U.S. Women Bossed by Sweden in Stunning Olympic Defeat
The United States suffered a humbling 3-0 defeat against a superior Sweden team in a women’s soccer Group G opener Wednesday, losing for the first time in 44 matches dating back to January of 2019.
The gulf in effort, organization and commitment between the defending World Cup champions and their Scandinavian rivals was clear from the opening five minutes and became increasingly obvious as the clock ticked past 90 minutes, spoiling Vlatko Andonovski’s major tournament debut as USWNT head coach.
The Swedes dominated every phase of play, inflicting the manner of total game control the United States has traditionally imposed on its international opponents.
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After a flurry of early chances created but not finished off by Sweden, the opening goal came in the 25th minute when Sofia Jakobsson swung a cross toward the near post where a charging Stina Blackstenius headed the ball across Alyssa Naeher into the American goal.
Blackstenius doubled the Sweden lead early in the second half, finishing off a corner kick not dealt with by the American defenders. Then, in the 72nd minute, Lina Hurtig killed the game off with Sweden’s third goal off a towering header.
The last two matches of Olympic competition for the United States have ended in crushing losses to Sweden, five years apart. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Sweden, then coached by former USWNT manager Pia Sundhage, emerged victorious from a quarterfinal round penalty shootout to eliminate the U.S. at the earliest stage in any major tournament in the nation’s history.