Sweden outshot the United States 17 to 13 with nine efforts on target to the Americans’ five. The best U.S. chance to get a foothold in the match came near the stroke of halftime when Rose Lavelle knocked a header off the upright of the goal. The remaining best USWNT scoring opportunities came late in the second half when the result was no longer in doubt.
“We got our ass kicked a little bit,” said U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe, who came on as a substitute with 26 minutes to go in the match. “I think we just looked a little bit nervous. I think we played a little bit tight, and we don’t ever need to play that way.”
The last two matches of Olympic competition for the United States have both ended in crushing losses to Sweden, five years apart. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Sweden, then coached by former USWNT manager Pia Sundhage, emerged victorious from a quarterfinal round penalty shootout hand the U.S. its earliest elimination at any major tournament in the history.
In Rio, Sweden under Sundhage played a defensive-minded game to smother and frustrate the United States. On Wednesday inside Tokyo Stadium, the same venue that will host the Opening Ceremony in two days’ time, Gerhardsson brought the fight to the world champs.
“They’re obviously physical, they’re very organized, they’re hard to break down,” U.S. forward Alex Morgan said of the team that’s become something of a nemesis for the U.S. women. Sweden dealt the U.S. its first non-victory of the Andonovski era in April with a 1-1 draw in an international friendly. Wednesday was the ninth time the nations have met in major competition, the most of any matchup involving the USWNT.
The biggest reassurance for Andonovski and company is that as many as three teams from each four-nation group will advance to the knockout stage in Japan. The U.S. has two remaining group stage matches – Saturday against New Zealand and Tuesday against Australia – to rebound from the loss to Sweden and continue its pursuit of a historic double. No nation has ever held the Women’s World Cup and the Olympic title at the same time.