Megan Rapinoe said the United States women’s national team must move on quickly after a surprise 3-0 loss to Sweden in the opening game of the Olympics on Wednesday.
The USWNT saw an unbeaten record of 44 games end in humble style as the tournament favorites and world No. 1 were undone by two Stina Blackstenius goals and one from Lina Hurtig.
With four gold medals, the United States has more than any other country and is vying to become the first team to win Olympic gold after a World Cup title.
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However, to do that, the team must move on quickly after the loss to the side of Peter Gerhardsson. After the game, Rapinoe said, “We got kicked in the butt, didn’t we? … I thought we were a little tight, a little nervous, just doing stupid things.
“There is no time to stand still and think whether Sweden is alive in our heads or not. In three days we have another match.”
Rapinoe, who came on to make it 2-0 in the 64th minute, added: “Did we expect this result tonight? No.
“It’s frustrating and it’s frustrating that it’s Sweden. They’ve found a lot of space for us. I don’t even know how many goals we gave up this whole year. I can’t remember the last time we gave away a goal. So to give up three is not great.”
Sweden, ranked No. 5, has been the sort of nemesis of the US team in recent years. The Swedes defeated the Americans of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games in the quarterfinals, their earliest US Olympic exit ever, by taking a defensive stance.
In April, Sweden beat the United States to a 1-1 draw in Stockholm, a winning streak dating back to January 2019, when the Americans lost to France in the run-up to the World Cup. It was the US team’s only draw this year.
American coach Vlatko Andonovski said: “Obviously we have put ourselves in a big hole, but we are the only ones who can get out.
“It’s not going to be easy. We have to get positive results in the next two games, but the fact that there is still a chance [means] I know this team will not give up.”
Sweden lead Group G into Saturday’s game against Australia in Saitama, while the United States takes on New Zealand. The top two teams in the group advance to the knockout round.
“We have very brave players and very good leaders,” said Gerhardsson. “Brave attitude to win the ball and switch so well. Yes, I’m satisfied.”
In 2008, the United States also lost its first game (2-0 to Norway), but then won the gold medal.
“I think as an athlete you eventually go through ups and downs, and this is a difficult result, but it is the nature of a tough tournament,” said US forward Christen Press. “It wouldn’t be easy. We wouldn’t get through six games anyway. So here we are.”
This report uses information from The Associated Press.