The U.S. girls soccer gamers had not forgotten the best way Sweden eradicated them on the Rio Video games in 2016.
For 5 years, the Individuals laid in wait quietly hoping to see the Swedes in one other Olympics.
For 5 years, the top-ranked Individuals dominated world play since shedding on penalty kicks in Rio within the quarterfinals.
Then got here the dramatic opening match of the Tokyo Video games the place the Individuals’ 44-game unbeaten streak disappeared into the humid air
In a 3-0 drubbing not often skilled by the storied U.S. girls’s program, Sweden employed an astute sport plan with seasoned and robust gamers who left the USA in a state of shock for nearly 90 minutes.
The outcome indicators the potential for a seachange in worldwide soccer as American invincibility shattered like a damaged window.
“I don’t assume this workforce expects to lose a sport to start with however to not lose 3-0,” mentioned Vlatko Andonovski, who misplaced for the primary time as U.S. coach.
The Individuals are attempting to win their fifth gold medal since girls’s soccer was added to the Olympics in 1996. The one time they didn’t earn a medal was in 2016.
The workforce rebounded from that defeat to win the 2019 Ladies’s World Cup that included defeating Sweden 2-0 in group play.
So, few may have predicted how a lot Sweden would power the Individuals into a job of desperately chasing a superior workforce, all the time a step too sluggish.
This was not the defense-minded workforce of 2016 that the previous goalkeeper Hope Solo had known as cowards.
Sweden pushed ahead at each alternative, typically jetting previous heavy-legged U.S. midfielders.
Andonovski despatched on veterans Julie Ertz, Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe within the second half to inject life right into a listless workforce. However not even the three star veterans may reboot the system.
“We now have so many gamers that may do good things and as a workforce we’re excellent,” mentioned Stina Blackstinius, who scored twice. “Each participant could be very joyful about going very attacking.”
The defeat marked some ignoble milestones for the USA: It was the Individuals’ worst defeat in Olympic historical past and their worst loss since a 4-0 thrashing to Brazil on the 2007 Ladies’s World Cup.
Blackstinius acquired the brace within the fifty fifth minute in a rating that stripped away any ideas of an American comeback. She scored on sloppy defending after a nook kick discovered Amanda Ilestedt within the combine.
Ilestedt’s header hit the far put up and took a pleasant bounce to Blackstinius, who used her left foot to flick it over U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher for a 2-0 lead.
Lina Hurtig made it 3-0 within the 72nd minute when heading in a ball previous Neaher whereas splitting two defenders simply contained in the six-yard field. She acquired a beautiful serve from an unmarked Hanna Glas on the suitable the place the Swedes labored a lot of their magic.
“Can we count on this outcome?” Redding’s Rapinoe mentioned in a information convention. “No, it’s irritating, and irritating it’s Sweden.”
Earlier than the sport, the Individuals had allowed 4 objectives this yr. Sweden may have scored 4 instances on this sport, squandering some first-half probabilities.
The Swedes, sporting their yellow jerseys, probed the suitable facet the place U.S. fullback Crystal Dunn labored further time to thwart the waves of assault.
Nevertheless it by no means was going to be sufficient. Sofia Jakobsson collected a large ball on the suitable within the twenty fifth minute. She had time to select Blackstenius in entrance of the web for a glancing header though Menlo Park’s Abby Dahlkemper defended her effectively.
“It simply felt like there have been holes in all places defensively,” former Cal star Alex Morgan mentioned. “We didn’t have the numbers across the ball to win it again.”
America’ final defeat in all competitions got here on Jan. 19 2019 in a 3-1 loss towards France.
“In the long run I don’t know the way a lot it means, however for positive we confirmed the world and ourselves that we will play effectively towards a workforce just like the U.S. or any workforce,” Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl mentioned in a information convention.
The Swedes performed with out defender Magda Eriksson due to harm. However she was not wanted on a workforce that performed aggressively and gained a lot of the balls. The swarm of yellow jerseys pissed off the U.S. midfield because the Individuals had few alternatives to muster severe scoring threats.
“We acquired bopped, and we’ve got two extra video games coming fast and quick,” Rapinoe mentioned. “And now we all know precisely what we have to do.”
Group G play continues Saturday in Saitama with the USA towards New Zealand. The Individuals finish the group on Tuesday towards No. 9 Australia.