The American women’s soccer team was led in its Olympic opener on Wednesday by Sweden, the same opponent that knocked them out of the Rio matches in 2016.
Sweden beat the Americans 3-0, a devastating start for the reigning world champions. The team had not lost a game since January 2019, but Wednesday’s astonishing disruption before an empty stadium snatched the 44-game unbeaten streak.
Stina Blackstenius scored a goal for Sweden in each half of the game, one in the 25th minute and another in the 54th minute. Lina Hurtig rounded off the game with a final goal in the 72nd minute and sealed the Swedes’ victory.
Ahead of the rematch, US defender Becky Sauerbrunn said on Tuesday that the 2016 loss to Sweden was “one of the worst results the senior national team has had in a major tournament.”
“From playing in that game, I know how disappointed we all were,” she said. “And for me, it has lit a fire.”
After Wednesday night’s match, Sauerbrunn said she thought the team could still bring the gold home.
“Bad night tonight, so we have a lot of work ahead of us,” she said. “But I have faith that we can do it.”
The United States entered the Tokyo Games in hopes of becoming the first female team to take Olympic gold after winning the cup. Wednesday’s losses make it harder.
The United States is ready to play New Zealand on Saturday.