How the U.S. Soccer Team Lost to Sweden in Their Olympic Opener

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The New York Times 21 July, 2021 - 05:50am 17 views

What channel will the US women's soccer game be on?

What TV channel are USWNT games onon? Matches will air on USA Network and NBCSN for the group stage. The knockout round will be on those two networks as well as NBC. USA TODAYUSWNT at the Tokyo Olympics: Full schedule, roster, tournament format and how to watch on TV

Where can I watch Olympic soccer?

NBCSN can be streamed on fuboTV (free 7-day trial). All Olympic soccer matches will be streamed in the USA on NBCOlympics.com, TelemundoDeportes.com, NBC Sports app and the Telemundo Deportes app — all with user authentication. Sporting NewsUSWNT vs. Sweden time, channel, TV schedule to watch 2021 Olympic women's soccer game

Is Olympic soccer single elimination?

During the single-elimination knockout rounds, all matches in both the men's and women's tournaments that are tied after 90 minutes of regulation will head to 30 minutes of extra time (two periods of 15 minutes each). If the draw persists, a penalty-kick shootout will be used to determine a winner. Sporting NewsOlympic soccer rules, explained: How men’s and women’s football tournaments work in Tokyo

When do the Tokyo 2021 Olympics start?

The 2021 Olympics, delayed a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will finally take place from July 23 through Aug. 8 in Tokyo, even as the pandemic continues to take its toll not just on the sports world, but the world at large. Sporting NewsWhere are the Olympics in 2021? Locations, venues & more to know about Tokyo Games

Five years since Sweden had dashed the United States women’s soccer team’s hopes for an Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio Games. Five years since a defeat that forced the Americans to look in the mirror and ask hard questions about their age, their dominance.

Five years of waiting, only to end up right back in the same place.

The United States opened the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday just as they had ended the Rio Games five years earlier: on the wrong end of a humbling, embarrassing defeat to Sweden. Then it was a loss on penalties in the quarterfinals; this time the result was much earlier and not nearly as close: Sweden 3, United States 0. But the sting and the statement baked into the defeat was just as real.

“It feels like a big deal,” defender Kelley O’Hara had said Tuesday of the rematch on Wednesday. “It feels like the Olympics. It’s what we’ve waited now five years for, to be back here.”

They just never expected it to end like this.

The defeat was the Americans’ first in 24 games under Coach Vlatko Andonovski, and their first against any opponent since a loss to France in January 2019. And it will force them to scramble to recover in the Olympic tournament. Games against New Zealand and Australia await in quick succession in the first round, and tougher opponents like Britain and the Netherlands could await in the medal round.

But first, the Americans will have to sort out just what went wrong at Tokyo Stadium.

Striker Stina Blackstenius delivered a goal in each half for Sweden on Wednesday, a glancing header in the 25th minute and a point-blank finish in the 54th that felt like a just reward for a dominant Sweden attack that had the Americans on their heels as early as the game’s opening minutes.

The United States, under pressure again and again, tried everything to turn the tide. Carli Lloyd and Julie Ertz — in her first appearance in months — came on at halftime, and Megan Rapinoe entered the game about 20 minutes later. Even the departure — mercifully, in the Americans’ view — of Blackstenius in the 64th minute didn’t help; her replacement merely picked up where she left off by claiming an open header, and Sweden’s third goal, eight minutes later.

FULL TIME. Sweden notches a huge upset, 3-0, over the United States! The celebrations are low-key in this empty stadium. The Americans hang their heads for only a second before lining up to shake hands with the Swedes.

90′ Press with yet another chance. She makes a deep run straight through the heart of the Swedish defense and gets on the end of a cross from the left side. But her header drifts too close to Lindahl, who fists it away. A minute later Lloyd sends her own header to the left of the goal and out of bounds.

87′ Press chests down a high cross from Rapinoe and lashes a right-footed shot toward the far post. It’s got a bit too much English on it, though, and twists away from the frame of the goal. The U.S. is keeping up the pressure, but Sweden is maintaining its composure. It’s a really impressive performance from the team in yellow.

81′ The Americans make a couple of late subs, with defender Tierna Davidson coming on for Crystal Dunn, and midfielder Kristie Mewis entering the game for Rose Lavelle.

75′ Two final subs for Sweden, which — given how this has gone so far — shouid have no trouble seeing this out from here.

73′ Lina Hurtig was being marked by Abby Dahlkemper ... until she was not. When Hanna Glas floated a high, arcing cross from the right sideline, Hurtig was all alone to head it calmly past Naeher. The celebration was muted; Sweden is in complete control, after all. This feels out of reach for the United States and will be a stunning result for a team widely expected to win the gold medal.

Sweden AGAIN. 🚨#TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/IgGW7sD3yp

71′ SO CLOSE FOR THE U.S.! Rapinoe got free again on the left side and threaded a pass across the mouth of goal to Press, who got a clean shot off toward goal. But the ball ricocheted off the left post and eventually bounced out of harm’s way. They really needed that one.

70′ Bjorn goes down (quite easily) after winning a header against Lloyd at midfield and takes her time getting up. Sweden is in full-on protect-the-lead mode now.

69′ Crystal Dunn, high up the field on the left wing, slips a clever ball through the defense to release Megan Rapinoe to the left of Sweden’s goal. She tries to rip a shot, but the angle feels a bit too tight, and it’s saved easily by Lindahl.

64′ Two subs for Sweden, which (mercifully for the U.S. defense) withdraws Blackstenius.

On the other side, Megan Rapinoe comes on for Heath and takes up a position on Lloyd’s left.

61′ Lavelle blasts a left-footed bomb from deep inside the U.S. half into the open space behind the Swedish defense, where Carli Lloyd collects and dribbles right-to-left inside the box toward the goal. Lloyd’s lefty shot deflects off her defender’s foot, though, and dribbles away harmlessly.

60′ Lots of chatter and hand-clapping from the United States players now as they try to pin the Swedes deep for a change. But Lavelle and Horan get crossed up on an exchange, and back the other way we go. Within a minute, Blackstenius is wheeling in the area for yet another shot.

54′ Amanda Ilestedt rose up highest out of the pack to knock a corner kick toward the U.S. goal. The shot bounced off the far post and dropped to the feet of Blackstenius, who blasted it into the roof of the net from point-blank range. Naeher was helpless, flailing her arms to no avail. That’s Blackstenius’s second goal, and again, it feels very much deserved for Sweden. The Americans have to scramble now.

Blackstenius with her 2nd goal of the game! #TokyoOlympicspic.twitter.com/sEzQ3AWgBZ

54′ GOAL! Sweden doubles its lead! 2-0!

54′ Sweden wins a corner, and nearly a free header off it, and then another on the far corner.

If this half is feeling a lot like the first, that’s because it’s playing out exactly like the first.

51′ Kelley O’Hara was looking up at a ball in midair when she received a forearm from a Swedish player between her shoulder blades. She was on the ground, holding the back of her neck in pain for a couple of minutes, but appears to be fine.

48′ Ertz is muscled off the ball by an Asllani and Rolfo sandwich, and the Swedes are in. The shot that results is a screamer but soars just over the bar.

Ertz is on for Sam Mewis, and playing the deep midfield role. This is her first appearance since sustaining a leg injury in a club game months ago. Lloyd has replaced Alex Morgan in the central striker’s role.

All seven of Sweden’s subs stayed out at halftime, loosening up for potential work in the second half. The United States, meanwhile, retreated to the locker room en masse to discuss what went wrong.

Two players have suddenly returned, though, to loosen up ahead of the others, and they are an intriguing pair: Carli Lloyd and Julie Ertz.

If it feels unusual to watch the United States get bossed around for a half, well, it should. It doesn’t happen often. But Sweden’s tactics — pressuring Crystal Dunn’s side with Sofia Jakobsson and others again and again, and then using slashing cuts and leading balls down the center to split the stretched defense — have left the Americans on their heels again and again. Naeher has come up big a few times, but the U.S. attack has been invisible, and because of that the defense just can’t seem to get its footing and shrug off the pressure, which has been relentless.

HALFTIME. That whistle might be a relief for the United States, which was on its heels for nearly the entire half and — despite Lavelle’s late header off the post — is probably lucky to go in at 1-0.

Megan Rapinoe, who watched the first half from the bench, bolted out of her seat and sprinted to the mouth of the tunnel to intercept the American starters as they walked off the field. She then stood there and high-fived each one as they headed for the locker rooms. Could she come on and make a difference in the second half? It’s clear the U.S. needs to make some tweaks.

45′ Oooooh that was close! O’Hara drives a screamer from just inside Sweden’s half, a hopeful ball that turns into a better and better one with every inch closer to Rose Lavelle. Lavelle, streaking in at the left post, meets it as it falls with a powerful header that beats Lindahl — and then dings off the left post and back out.

That’s the best U.S. chance of the half by far.

Sweden surely left the stadium that night feeling good about its efforts against a team as good as the United States — just as it must about its first half today — and perhaps a little aggrieved that it didn’t finish off its win.

That game is the only one under Vlatko Andonovski, out of 23 matches, that ended in anything but a U.S. victory. The Americans have not lost to anyone at all since January 2019.

43′ Blackstenius gallops into open space behind the U.S. defense, glides under a beautifully delivered long ball from the right side and controls it with her chest into the box. It looked like a sure goal, but her final touch in the box was not particularly clean. The ball gets stuck under her foot, giving Naeher an opening to swoop in and grab it before any damage can be done. It could have been 2-0 there.

38′ Some delicate footwork by O’Hara at the top of Sweden’s penalty area leaves her defender chasing shadows and O’Hara a free look at a cross. Lindahl, however, gobbles it up before it can cause trouble.

37′ Alex Morgan was in a good deal of pain after being wiped out from behind by a Swedish player. She had her face in her hands, before her teammates helped peel her off the grass. She seems to be OK now.

31′ A hydration break may be exactly what the doctor ordered for Vlatko Andonovski and the U.S. He’s in the middle of his players gesturing with both hands, and now is in a back-and-forth conversation with Heath.

31′ Sofia Jakobsson, who had the assist on Sweden’s goal, has been a handful for defender Crystal Dunn and the U.S. so far. Wearing No. 10, she’s finding all sorts of space to work on the right wing, constantly calling for the ball, repeatedly getting it and charging aggressively into space. Dunn had to slide to deny another golden chance for Jakobsson, who had dribbled all the way to the mouth of the goal at full speed.

It’s been waaaay too easy for Sweden on the right side today. The goal showed that, but the normally unflappable Dunn is really having it rough.

26′ Naeher, to be clear, had no chance there. Point-blank header, and an early hole for the United States.

25′ That’s a well-deserved goal for Sweden, who had been creating one chance after another. It was only a matter of time. Jakobsson sliced a cross from the right side to Blackstenius, who let the ball glance off her forehead and into the net.

25′ GOAL! Sweden takes the lead!

24′ And another! It’s Rolfo this time, sprung up the center in a quick exchange. Naeher again dives right to palm away her shot. But the U.S. surely knows it’s playing with fire here. Too many chances.

23′ Asllani forces yet another diving save from Naeher with a curling shot from outside the box.

21′ And just like that Heath drops into a deep-lying midfield role and Mewis pushes much higher, alongside Morgan.

20′ We’re 20 minutes in and it feels as if the U.S. needs to find a way to get Mewis and Horan a bit more of the ball, if only because that might mean Sweden’s midfield would have a little less of it.

How quiet is it in this stadium? You could hear a few individual gasps in response to Alyssa Naeher’s save.

Atmosphere will be an issue today, the U.S. defender Kelley O’Hara admitted in a conference call this week. And she said that she and her teammates would do their best to create a little of it — to get “loud” was her word.

“If we can be loud and communicative and just bring energy with our voices, because we’re going to be able to hear each other — which typically doesn’t happen when you step onto a pitch in a major tournament — I think that that can contribute to our energy and the vibe of the game,” she said.

We’ll see what we can hear: They have already tested the pumped-in crowd noise this evening. (Fake cheers! Not just for TV viewers anymore!)

That match, a quarterfinal at the 2016 Rio Olympics won by Sweden in a penalty-kick shootout, was the last game the United States women’s team played in the Games. For five years, O’Hara said, she and her teammates have been itching to make it right.

“It feels like a big deal,” O’Hara said Tuesday. “It feels like the Olympics. It’s what we’ve waited now five years for, to be back here.”

It is perhaps fitting that the United States will open its latest pursuit of Olympic soccer gold on Wednesday with a game against Sweden. There is no team, in fact, that the Americans have faced more in world championship competition: six meetings in the World Cup, including the past five tournaments, and two more at the Olympics. Those collisions include the 2016 defeat in Brazil, which was the first time an American women’s team had returned from the Games without a medal.

“It’s a game and a loss that I’ve thought about a lot over the last five years,” said O’Hara, who started the game but watched its denouement helplessly from the bench after being substituted. “How are we going to get revenge? Hopefully we’re going to beat them.”

With games against Australia and New Zealand to come, the United States faces potentially its sternest test of the tournament against Sweden on opening day. The Swedes, the world’s fifth-ranked team, are the only side to deny the Americans a victory since January 2019, and the teams’ 1-1 tie in Stockholm in April is the only blemish on the unbeaten record of United States Coach Vlatko Andonovski (22-0-1). Only an 87th-minute penalty kick by Megan Rapinoe, in fact, prevented defeat that day.

Yet even for a veteran United States team with voluminous championship experience — 17 of the 18 players on the current squad lifted the World Cup two summers ago — almost nothing else about this year’s tournament will feel familiar: not the venues, and definitely not the pandemic conditions, which include the absence of family, friends and fans in the stands.

One thing that never changes is the stakes. The United States is trying to win the Olympic tournament for a record fifth time. But it also is trying — again — to become the first reigning Women’s World Cup champion to claim the Olympic gold. That was the goal in 2016, of course, but Sweden sent the Americans home empty-handed.

“I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about that, and I think most people on the team have,” O’Hara said. “At the same time, I know what it takes to win a major tournament. For me it’s about focusing on the game right in front of me and the opponent that I’m going to play, so I don’t get too caught up in, ‘Oh, we’re going to make history, or do this or do that, or break this record or that record.’ To me it’s just, win the game.

“But that being said,” she quickly added of the possible World Cup-Olympic double, “it’d be very cool.”

If you missed the match, it will be replayed on NBCSN at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time and 6 p.m. Eastern.

Read full article at The New York Times

U.S. women's Olympic soccer team seeks redemption in Tokyo after shocking loss in Rio

Yahoo News 21 July, 2021 - 06:03am

The big picture: But after a disappointing performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where the women failed to reach the gold medal game for the first time in history, the team is looking for redemption on the Olympic stage in Tokyo.

The team is also seeking a back-to-back double — winning the Olympics after winning the Women's World Cup — which has never been done before by any women's team.

Group stage:

July 21 - Sweden defeats the U.S., 3-0

July 24 at 7:30 a.m. ET vs. New Zealand

July 27 at 4:00 a.m. ET vs. Australia

An 18-player team of predominately WNT veterans — 17 played on the 2019 World Cup squad — will vie for gold in Japan. Some familiar faces include:

Alex Morgan, who has scored 110 goals in 180 international game, is one of the most prolific strikers in women's soccer history.

The 32-year-old, who gave birth in May 2020, scored the game-winning goal in the final seconds of extra time in a nail-biting semifinal against Canada at the 2012 London Games.

Carli Lloyd will play in her fourth Olympic Games at age 39, making her the oldest player the U.S. women's national team has ever sent to the Olympics.

Lloyd was named the best women's player in the world twice by FIFA and is one of three players — male or female — to appear in 3oo or more international matches, per NPR.

Megan Rapinoe, 35, who scored the game-winning goal in the 2019 World Cup final, will become a three-time Olympian this summer.

Former co-captain of the team and winner of the Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards in 2019, Rapinoe is active off the pitch as an outspoken advocate for pay equity and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Check out the full U.S. WNT roster here.

"We have a very experienced roster that has been through adversity at the highest levels," coach Vlatko Andonovski said, per USA Today.

"It can feel like there is a bit of a burden just with the pressure of being on this team and the expectations we hold for ourselves," captain Becky Sauerbrunn, 36, told the Post.

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On July 21, Team USA will face off against Sweden—the team that knocked the Americans out of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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Tokyo Olympics | Katelin Guregian

WCNC 21 July, 2021 - 06:00am

USA vs. Sweden score | USWNT begins Olympic run

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Sweden dominates US women's soccer team 3-0 in their Tokyo Olympic opener

USA TODAY 21 July, 2021 - 05:34am

The Americans had been pointing to this game for five years, ever since they lost to Sweden on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympics

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US Women's National Team player Crystal Dunn has gained confidence as an outspoken player since their 2019 World Cup win. USA TODAY

TOKYO – Instead of getting revenge for their ouster at the Rio Olympics, the U.S. women got embarrassed.

The reigning World Cup champions were completely outclassed by old foe Sweden in their opener at the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday, a 3-0 loss that, frankly, could have been a heck of a lot worse. The Americans were outplayed, out of sync and, in the few opportunities they did have, off target.

It was their worst showing at a major international tournament since a 4-0 loss to Brazil in the semifinals of the 2007 World Cup. It was their first loss since January 2019 – ending a 44-match unbeaten streak.

The only positive is that, unlike the loss to Sweden in 2016, this was not a knockout game, and the top two finishers in each group are guaranteed of advancing. But unless the U.S. gets itself in gear – fast – it’s going to be looking at a similar early exit from Tokyo.

The U.S. plays New Zealand next, on Saturday.

The Americans had been pointing to this game for five years, ever since they lost to Sweden on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympics. It was their worst result ever at a major tournament, the first time they had failed to medal at an Olympics or a World Cup.

The loss drove them in 2019, when they won their second consecutive World Cup. And they were confident the extra year to prepare, because of the COVID-19 delay, would work in their favor as they tried to become the first reigning World Cup champions to win the Olympic title.

But the Americans looked against Sweden like teams usually look against them: Inept, and unable to do anything about it.

It wasn’t just the two goals by Stina Blackstenius, one in each half. Or the header by Lina Hurtig in the 72nd. This is largely the same squad that won its second consecutive World Cup in 2019, yet there are pickup squads that look more cohesive.

Sweden shredded and slithered its way through the midfield as if the Americans were invisible. Or standing still. Their defensive miscues were confounding; on Blackstenius’ second goal, for example, she was left largely unmarked at the far post on a corner kick, allowing her to chip a rebound over Alyssa Naeher’s head in the 54th.

When the Americans did get the ball, it wasn’t for long – or to much effect. Too often passes were made to empty spaces, and there was never any sense that the Americans were in control. At one point in the first half, when the game was still somewhat within reach, Rose Lavelle held out her hands as if to say, “What are we doing?”

The only threats were shots off the posts by Lavelle and Christen Press.

Even the additions of Carli Lloyd and Julie Ertz at halftime had little impact. Oh, the Americans appeared a little more active, but they still couldn’t contain Sweden’s pace or produce anything resembling an offensive attack.

The loss in 2016 came on penalty kicks, and the Americans could at least take comfort in knowing the game could have gone either way. There is no excuses to be made in this game. The best team in the world for much of the last three decades, the Americans simply got outplayed.

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