This is the Americans’ first loss in 24 games under coach Vlatko Andonovski, and their first against an opponent since a loss to France in January 2019. And it will force them to scramble to recover in the Olympic tournament: Matches against New Zealand (on Saturday) and Australia (Tuesday) will come in quick succession in the first round, and tough opponents like Great Britain and the Netherlands could wait in the medal round .
“You lose points at the start of a tournament, you’re in ‘do or die’ mode,” said Rapinoe.
But first, the Americans will have to figure out what went wrong at the Tokyo stadium.
Maybe the defeat shouldn’t have been a total surprise. Sweden is no stranger to the United States – the teams meeting on Wednesday was their 10th in a major league, including games from the last five World Cups – and they could have been forgiven for a little confidence after achieving a strong performance in April against the United States in a 1-1 draw in Stockholm.
This match had seemed at the time, a rare misstep for a United States team to lose is anathema. Until Wednesday, the draw in Stockholm had been the only stain on the Americans’ record under Andonovski (22-0-1).
Essentials of the Summer Olympics
Wednesday’s victory was a much stronger statement, and it will raise tough questions about Andonovsky’s reliance on an aging core – every striker on the US roster is over 30 – and past results as an indicator. future performance.
While the Olympics have been delayed for a year due to the pandemic, America’s roster is relatively unchanged since the 2019 Women’s World Cup. It not only includes its veteran frontline, but also points of interest. questioning like Ertz, whose appearance was his first for a team in months after a leg injury earlier this year, and Tobin Heath, who has just returned from an injury.
In fact, seventeen of the gold-chasing players in Japan were part of the squad that won the World Cup in France two years ago. Now they’ll have to summon the kind of grain that delivered that prize if they are to claim another, and do so in the melting pot of a scorching Japanese summer and a compressed Olympic calendar.