USWNT romped by Sweden in Olympic opener

USWNT romped by Sweden in Olympic opener

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 five 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 Australia on Saturday, and New Zealand 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.