‘We got our asses kicked’: Sweden come back to haunt USWNT again at Olympics
Megan Rapinoe said “it is what it is, we got bopped” after two goals from the striker Stina Blackstenius helped Sweden to a stunning 3-0 defeat of the United States at the Tokyo Stadium in their opening game of the Olympics.
“I wouldn’t say they’ve got in our heads,” said the forward of the team that knocked them out of the Rio Olympics at the quarter-final stage and more recently earned a 1-1 draw against the world champions that ended their 16-game winning streak.
“They’re one of the best teams in the world,” Rapinoe added. “If we play a France [or] an England four times a year, we’re going to have those kinds of results.
With that said, we always expect to win every game that we play. So do we expect this result tonight? No, and it’s frustrating, and of course frustrating that it’s Sweden.”
The US team arrived in Japan as overwhelming favourites to win gold but they were brutally exposed by Sweden. “They found a lot of space on us,” said Rapinoe. “I don’t remember the last time we gave up a goal. So to give up three is not great …
“We got our asses kicked, didn’t we? I thought we were a little tight, a little nervous, just doing dumb stuff. There’s no time to dwell and think about if Sweden is living in our heads or not. We’ve got another game in three days.”
Blackstenius’s 26th-minute header gave Sweden the lead. In the second half the USA manager, Vlatko Andonovski, who had not lost since taking charge after Jill Ellis stepped down, shuffled the pack, bringing on Carli Lloyd for Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz for Sam Mewis but his team could not break through a resilient defence that was without the key centre-back Magda Eriksson, who reached the Champions League final with Chelsea last season. Instead, Blackstenius scored a second in the 54th minute before substitute Lina Hurtig added a third.
The USA captain and centre-back Becky Sauerbrunn had sung the praises of a defence that had conceded only four goals since the 2019 World Cup, saying the secret was that “every single player that plays has to put in a defensive shift” and that the team study defending in different situations over and over again and “get down to the nitty gritty details” so that if they do concede they make sure it does not happen again. Now they will have to go back to the drawing board.
“Of course, [the defeat] is not something we expected,” said Andonovski. “There are so many things that we didn’t do well enough, but I also want to give credit to Sweden; they played an unbelievable game and they were better than us today.”
Sweden play Australia next, on Saturday, when the US will try to get their Group G campaign back on track against New Zealand.
“It obviously puts ourselves in a big hole,” Andonovski said. “We’re the only ones that can get ourselves out of it. It’s not going to be easy.
“We have got to get good results in the next two games. But there’s still a chance. I know this team is not going to give up.”