U.S. ladies’s soccer staff falls to Sweden in Olympic opener

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The US women’s soccer team was beaten in their Olympic opener on Wednesday by Sweden, the same opponent who knocked them out of the Rio Games in 2016.

Sweden beat the Americans 3-0, a devastating start for the reigning world champions. The team hadn’t lost a game since January 2019, but the breathtaking excitement on Wednesday in front of an empty stadium ended this 44-game unbeaten streak.

Stina Blackstenius scored one goal for Sweden in each half, one in the 25th 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.

Before the rematch, US defender Becky Sauerbrunn said on Tuesday that the 2016 loss to Sweden was “one of the worst results the senior team has achieved in a major tournament”.

“From that game I know how disappointed we all were,” she said. “And for me it lit a fire.”

After Wednesday’s night game, Sauerbrunn said she believed the team could still bring home gold.

“Bad night tonight so we have a lot of work to do,” she said. “But I believe we can do it.”

The United States came to the Tokyo Games in the hope of becoming the first women’s team to win Olympic gold after winning the trophy. The defeat on Wednesday makes it even more difficult.

The USA will play against New Zealand on Saturday.