The USWNT’s 44-game unbeaten streak came to an ugly end after a 3-0 loss against Sweden in their Tokyo Olympics opener.
The reigning World Cup champions were dominated by the Swedes from the opening kick-off to the final whistle. Fifth-ranked Sweden applied the pressure early and never let off; they fired three shots on goal within the first eight minutes. In the 25th minute Sweden finally scored an inevitable goal as Stina Blackstenius put a glancing header into the back of the net from a Sofia Jakobsson service.
Rose Lavelle was nearly able to equalize in the 45th minute with a header off a Christen Press corner kick, but it hit off the post. The U.S. went into the half lucky to be down only one.
Head coach Vlatko Andonovski made changes at the break swapping Julie Ertz for Sam Mewis and Carli Lloyd for Alex Morgan, hoping to bring on some experience and control in the midfield. But the number one ranked team in the world continued to struggle and fell further behind as Blackenstenius scored a brace in the 54th minute from a rebound off a corner kick to make it 2-0.
The USWNT made its third change in the 64th minute subbing off Tobin Heath for Megan Rapinoe. The U.S. looked like they may have had life for a couple of minutes with a couple of shots on goal– one from Rapinoe, and a shot of the post from Christen Press. However, the Swedes quickly closed that door as Lina Hurtig scored Sweden’s third goal in the 72nd minuted on a header, essentially securing the victory.
The 3-0 loss is the USWNT’s worst loss in a major tournament in 14 years when they lost 4-0 to Brazil in the 2007 World Cup semifinal.
The U.S. will look to get back on track on Saturday in, what is now, a must-win game against New Zealand. Second place in group G is the most likely finish for the U.S., which would mean a quarterfinal against the first-place team from Group F ; presumably Brazil or the Netherlands.