The USWNT fell apart against a familiar foe in its Olympic opener, ending a 44-game unbeaten streak and dropping its chances for gold in the process

·3 min read
Christen Press reacts after Sweden scores its third goal of the Tokyo Olympics opener.
Christen Press after Sweden scored its third goal of their Tokyo Olympics opener. AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan
  • The US women's soccer team fell apart in its Tokyo Olympics opener.

  • The reigning World Cup champions lost 3-0 to Sweden, ending a 44-game unbeaten streak.

  • Though the US hasn't been eliminated from the games, its path to gold just became much tougher.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The normally dominant US women's soccer team on Wednesday lost for the first time since January 2019.

The reigning World Cup champions and top-ranked national team faltered against Sweden in their opening game of the Tokyo Olympics, dropping a brutal 3-0 loss against the same team that ousted them from the Rio Olympics some five years ago.

Megan Rapinoe.
Megan Rapinoe. Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

With the loss - the first of head coach Vlatko Andonovski's tenure with the team - the Americans ended their 44-game unbeaten streak and severely decreased their chances of winning gold at the games.

Sweden was dominant from the opening kickoff, creating quick chances and forcing the ball into the US's defensive third. US goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher managed to ward off an early deficit with numerous key saves, but the Swedes finally broke through in the 25th minute via a stunning header from the 25-year-old forward Stina Blackstenius.

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The Americans looked rattled heading into the locker room at halftime, though the Swedes could have further increased their lead had they converted on several promising opportunities in the first 45 minutes.

Andonovski's squad returned to the pitch with two adjustments: Carli Lloyd in for Alex Morgan up top and Julie Ertz anchoring the midfield for the first time since suffering a knee injury in the spring.

The changes weren't enough, and Blackstenius wasn't finished tormenting the US. She found the back of the net in the 54th minute with a left-footed volley after a teammate's header ricocheted off the far post.

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Blackstenius left the game shortly thereafter, but her substitute - Lina Hurtig - added insult to injury for the Stars and Stripes. Hanna Glas made a stunning run up the right flank to deliver a cross right to the top of the 6-yard box, where a loosely guarded Hurtig rose up for a header that soared past Naeher's outstretched hand and into the goal.

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Though the US hasn't been eliminated from the tournament, the team's path to victory became much narrower after the 3-0 shutout. The Americans will need to finish first or second in the four-team Group G - which features New Zealand and a formidable Australian side in addition to their Olympics Achilles' heel in Sweden - to advance to the knockout stage.

They'll have three days to recover before taking the pitch for a Saturday-morning matchup against the Kiwis. Then, on Tuesday, the US is set to face the international superstar Sam Kerr and her Matildas for what promises to be a decisive final match in the group round.

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