CHOFU, Japan — 5 years they’d waited for this sport.
5 years since Sweden had dashed america girls’s soccer workforce’s hopes for an Olympic gold medal on the 2016 Rio Video games. 5 years since a defeat that pressured the People to look within the mirror and ask onerous questions on their age, their dominance.
5 years of ready, solely to finish up proper again in the identical place.
The US opened the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday simply as they’d ended the Rio Video games 5 years earlier: on the incorrect finish of a humbling, embarrassing defeat to Sweden. Then it was a loss on penalties within the quarterfinals; this time the end result was a lot earlier and never almost as shut: Sweden 3, United States 0. However the sting and the assertion baked into the defeat was simply as actual.
“It seems like an enormous deal,” defender Kelley O’Hara had stated Tuesday of the rematch on Wednesday. “It feels just like the Olympics. It’s what we’ve waited now 5 years for, to be again right here.”
They only by no means anticipated it to finish like this.
The defeat was the People’ first in 24 video games underneath Coach Vlatko Andonovski, and their first towards any opponent since a loss to France in January 2019. And it’ll pressure them to scramble to get better within the Olympic event. Video games towards New Zealand and Australia await in fast succession within the first spherical, and more durable opponents like Britain and the Netherlands may await within the medal spherical.
However first, the People should type out simply what went incorrect at Tokyo Stadium.
Striker Stina Blackstenius delivered a objective in every half for Sweden on Wednesday, a glancing header within the twenty fifth minute and a point-blank end within the 54th that felt like a simply reward for a dominant Sweden assault that had the People on their heels as early as the sport’s opening minutes.
The US, underneath stress many times, tried every little thing to show the tide. Carli Lloyd and Julie Ertz — in her first look in months — got here on at halftime, and Megan Rapinoe entered the sport about 20 minutes later. Even the departure — mercifully, within the People’ view — of Blackstenius within the sixty fourth minute didn’t assist; her alternative merely picked up the place she left off by claiming an open header, and Sweden’s third objective, eight minutes later.