Four-time Olympic champions the United States suffered the first defeat in 45 matches Wednesday as they lost 3-0 to Sweden in their opening game of the women’s football tournament in Tokyo.
Stina Blackstenius scored twice and Lina Hurtig added a third goal to give 2016 silver medallists Sweden a dream start to their Group G campaign at a Tokyo Stadium devoid of fans due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The US, who go on to play New Zealand and Australia in their next two group games, hadn’t lost since going down 3-1 to France in a friendly in January 2019.
“We got bopped,” said US forward Megan Rapinoe. “I thought we were a little bit nervous, a bit tight, doing dumb stuff.”
It was just the second loss over 90 minutes for the US at the Olympics. They were beaten in their first game of the 2008 tournament but still went on to win gold in Beijing.
“Yes, naturally (that can happen), but we also just know we can be happy for three points,” he said.
“But it’s a long tournament. Six games in 17 days if you go all the way. We are not in the quarter-finals yet so we have to get better in every game.”
Sweden shattered US hopes in a quarter-final penalty shootout in Rio five years ago, a bitter exit that served as a driving force behind the Americans’ run to a fourth World Cup title in 2019.
US captain Becky Sauerbrunn called the loss in Brazil “one of the worst results” the national team has had at an international tournament.
The US had won 22 of 23 games since Andonovski replaced Jill Ellis as coach in October 2019, with a 1-1 draw against the Swedes in April the only blemish.
Andonovski selected 17 of the players from the World Cup-winning squad for his first major tournament, but he elected to start Rapinoe on the bench as Tobin Heath appeared at her fourth Olympics.
– Sweden on top from start –
Sweden, who reached the World Cup semi-finals two years ago, threatened early and often in a first half where they completely dominated a surprisingly subdued US.