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USWNT stunned by Sweden in Olympic-opening upset


Some things are not meant to be.

The U.S. women’s national team’s effort to avenge its 2016 Olympic loss to Sweden was never in play when the teams squared off in Tokyo early Wednesday, and the Americans took a 3-0 lashing from the Swedes.

No defending World Cup champion has ever won the following Olympics, and if Wednesday’s performance was any indicator, the Americans will have to dig deep to buck that trend.

The loss was the first under Vlatko Andonovski’s leadership, and it came in embarassing fashion with respect to the high standard the USWNT has set for itself recently.

A Stina Blackstenius brace led the way for Sweden before she exited the game with an injury.

She struck in the 25th minute, and it should have been a wake-up call.

Clearly it was not, though. She was left unmarked on a set-piece in the 55th minute and issued due punishment for it.

The death blow was provided by Juventus’ Lina Hurtig. Another player who was left unmarked in an ill-advised situation.

Flat first-half performances from Samantha Mewis and Alex Morgan had them pulled at halftime for Julie Ertz and Carli Lloyd.

It hardly made a difference, though. The Swedes had the Americans’ number across the field as they failed to get on the board for the first time in over three years.

By the numbers, the game ended with Sweden out-shooting the United States 17-13 (9-5 on target), while the Americans owned a slim possession advantage 52-48%.

The concessions are not an indictment on goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who saw the busiest game she’s had in recent memory. The game could easily have been 3-0 in the first half if not for her saves in the first 45 minutes.

The USWNT can still advance to the knockout round with a second-place group performance and that should still be manageable, provided Wednesday’s result is not a slippery slope.

Up next for the USWNT is New Zealand on Saturday, and Australia on Tuesday. Neither are expected to present as tough of a test as Sweden, but the Americans cannot afford to underperform and must win out to ensure they advance.


  1. Wednesday’s result shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone who saw the teams play earlier in the Spring. The only difference was the final scores. The U.S. was luckier in the first game and not so lucky in the 2nd. Sweden is Bigger Stronger and Faster than the U. S. Those that followed the W/C may remember that Sweden played all of their reserves in the Group Match against the U.S. with the full knowledge that they would get by Chile and Thailand. If both teams would win out after their Group Match, if they met again it would be in the W/C Final. They were prepared to do in the W/C final what they did on Wednesday. However, in the Semis, they dominated the stats against The Netherlands but couldn’t get a ball in the net, and ended up 0-1 and out. They haven’t lost a match since the W/C
    and vowed to do here what they didn’t get the chance to do in France. The U.S. does not do well against Scandinavian Teams because of their size. Those that have been around for awhile may remember a couple of 0-0 draws against Iceland. I personally don’t believe that the U.S. can beat Sweden.
    The only chance I see is for someone else, who matches up better in size, like The Netherlands and England, knocking off the Swedes before the Gold Medal Match. If it can happen at the W/C, it can happen here. For the U. S. to beat the Swedes, I see the necessity of SCORING FIRST, and if that can be held into the 2nd half, going in to a 2-3-5 formation and attempt to keep the Swedes away from the goal and away from all of the corner kicks that were given up to a team that thrives on them.

  2. on Vlatko’s game, he got out coached big time. Tactics are supposed to be a strong suit for him but not vs. Sweden. And subbing off Mewis at halftime reeks of panic; Sam’s through balls were off, yes, but they were there and she was in position…she needed a confidence booster to be herself and instead he yanked her for a player who hasn’t suited up competitively in a while. My opinion. Vlako with a LOT to prove and DO, right now

  3. same issues that have been on this team’s back showed again, and it cost us this time. specifically 1. poor service and final balls and through balls, 2. no switching the point after breaking the first line, and 3. some players have aged and look it. Heath was poor looked rusty as she is and slow of thought in the box, hopefully she can turn that around. Lavelle not good in the physical matchups, showed again, she struggled. Morgan not clinical with her chances and she must be.

  4. kicked their butt in the aerial game is what they did. US had a couple chances which the old farts didn’t convert.

    • the lack of a power game has been another piece that plagues this group, only a few truly have it, and some like O’Hara looks like she’s lost it

  5. Sweden has looked as good or better than the USWNT for a while. The USWNT has been more about the stars than the team or the quality of play for a long time and somehow they’ve gotten away with it for the most part. It’s difficult to raise your level when the core of the team are actually on the decline.

    • My take on the teams shortcomings is really with the forwards where everyone has been injured recently. I think that it can take a long time for some to come back to where they were. Hopefully, the next 2 matches will allow our front line to get back into more of a competitive rhythm before the money matches begin.

  6. I’m just gonna say it. There’s been a lot of focus on things other than soccer from this team. Go ahead, slaughter me.

    • when you’re on a 40-whatever game winning streak for years during the various legal and public relations issues — I doubt it matters. i am more inclined to believe that as someone above suggested, they have a soccer problem — a ton of O-30s on that roster and may have gone the proverbial one tournament too many past their sell-by date.

      • you’re conflating “logic” and “facts.” in theory some teams might be affected by bad publicity. but others might feed off notoriety. both have a logic. but what facts suggest that logic reflects reality? they lost a game? begs the question why. you’re just assuming without anyone on the team saying they put too much on their plate or got distracted. fwiw the swedes kneeled before the game with them, and a team trying to get paid has an incentive to show up hungry — “contract year” — as opposed to complacent. the right these days just seems to confuse “makes sense” (logic, could possibly follow, see what the facts say) with “is true” (factually what happened). eg the virus came from the wrong side of wuhan for the lab, if one plots the cases on a map. the specifics and reality matter.

    • there was a lot of focus on things other than soccer at the World Cup too, remember? Like our President openly rooting against us for example

      • Agreed. They played well then. Not so much yesterday. At that time the team’s detractors were mocked, etc. Now the shoe is on the other food, and there are going to be those that will kick them while they’re down. This world is a cruel place.

      • i would wait until the tournament is over before kicking dirt on their grave. one assumes they will take the rest of their group games and it will come down to a knockout rematch later on. maybe sweden whoops them again, maybe they wake up. we shall see.

      • BB – Are you sure about that? I remember hearing him congratulate the team
        when they won the W/C. The only person I was aware of that was upset with the President was Megan, who was upset that Trump would not back legislation in a state for Trans-Gender people to have separate public bathrooms. I know that Trump had 3 people in his administration who were LGBT. The bathroom issue as I remember was in one particular state, and the voters apparently did not favor it, so it became a political HOT POTATO

    • They’re hard to love especially at the Olympics, which is still supposed to be a celebration of amateurism, sportsmanship, and love-of-the-game. They sued US soccer for more money in a baseless case. And they ran up the score against Thailand. And God help any female soccer player who’s not on board with Rapinoe’s world view – pick another sport I guess. It’s all too much. I used to love watching this team.

      • and there you go, thanks. The team that ‘ran up the score’ also beat Spain, France, England and Holland…in France, with a different coach, with the same stuff going on including folks at home not rooting for them, lol. Not new, the same except older, and maybe Vlatko isn’t up to it

      • The Olympics are not an amateur event in any sport. Sorry to break it to you and haven’t been for quite awhile. In some of the less popular sports the athletes likely have part time jobs but everyone is getting paid even if it’s just sponsors covering equipment and travel expenses.

      • sorry but by those standards anyone not literally self funded is a pro which is nonsense analysis. my select team was sponsored by a fortune 500 company. pro? my college gave me scholarships and my college team paid for flights, hotels, food, equipment, coaching, etc. pro? YNT have jersey sponsorships. pro? some US national teams have residential training grounds, get food, entry fee stipends, funded team event trips. pro? to me the line is you draw a team salary or win event prize money. like actual money. and i get where some equate in kind stuff to money but not if i never see a dime. half the reason for the NCAA lawsuits is the disparity and intermediation between what College gets and what Student receives. as that has skyrocketed it becomes harder and harder to tell the student “you get school paid for and the team stuff.”. yeah, but you got billions for that TV deal, plaster my name all over the place. this is pro for you and amateur for me.

        anyhow, reality is — and this is more apparent for women or minor concacaf nations than men — is there are two tiers in the sport, one level that is basically amateur and akin to the olympics, another that is professionalized. we take professional for granted because for about 30-40 years now this has moved beyond being graduate school for NCAA players. but some of the smaller caribbean countries are largely semi pro, or outright amateur. some of the upward movement of certain teams speaks to their domestic leagues professionalizing, or them finding more professionals abroad, or them moving into USL or MLS (which to believe snob suggestions seem to help everyone else out except america).

      • i mean one of the key things about MLS is it shifted the sport off of minor league economics and people could have a career in the sport. you no longer had players quitting because they needed a real day job. now, there are nominal minor league professionals in about every sport making next to nothing. but they get paid to play. if you have ever tried to actually self fund international sports — and i have (my post soccer stuff) — it’s basically build a campfire and dump piles of dollars in it. i am not going to parse whether college could be seen as professional if the player is still broke in a dorm.

    • yeah I know I know, call me old-fashioned. Of course I know pros play in the olympics now. But there used to be this sports ethic of getting up there, keeping your mouth shut, hitting a home run, jogging around the bases and staying humble and respectful. Now every athlete with an opinion is constantly indulged, and sports and politics have devolved together into a steaming mess. I wish athletes could just play by the old unwritten rules.

      • To be clear, literal amateurism wasn’t central to my point. It’s an Olympic “ideal” that competition matters more than money, and making a giant, logically incoherent fuss about pay is contrary to it. But they’re hard to like outside of the olympics too.
        I have no issue with money in sports. Anyone who can sell a ticket deserves to be paid.

      • dude, they play 20+ games a year that are not the olympics this year, and 4 years’ worth in between each tournament. and they have their own world cup. for that matter, isn’t the gold medal bonus “set?” like for everyone including fencing and skateboard. USOC-wide. i thought the pay thing was about the rest of the 4 years.

        for that matter, this discussion is sexist, inasmuch as if the men were playing we’d want to know what they get out of it, debate whether that is fair compense. convinced at least half this discussion is people not liking (a) uppity (b) women. and the men hardly toss the ball to the ref so that whole line of discussion makes me giggle.

  7. Wait, you’re telling me the one side that knows how to make the USWNT uncomfortable on the ball was able to make them uncomfortable yet again? Even still, what an absolutely dreadful showing.

    • exactly, and here’s how. Gerhardsson pressures M2M in the midfield so the receiver is under cinstatnt pressure. But it’s much more clever; he slants his pressure front 2 lines to force the US to t heir left, to Sauerbrunn, so Dahlkamper wasn;t the trigger out of the back. Becky was pretty predictable, played to Dunn over and over, and the US never solved this riddle by switching the point of attack; they did that like 2-3 times in the whole first half and it was wide flippin open. Different thab the 3-4-3 they played against us in April, still effective


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