The Opening Ceremonies are still a couple of days away, but the Tokyo Olympics are officially underway with the first games of the softball and women’s soccer competitions.
The Games have commenced as uncertainty regarding the coronavirus pandemic continues to hover over them, even after they were postponed a year and as officials take extraordinary precautions to limit the virus’s spread. As of Wednesday in Tokyo, officials have confirmed 75 positive tests among personnel associated with the Games, including six athletes.
Rather than attaining revenge against the Swedes in Coach Vlatko Andonovski’s major tournament debut at the Tokyo Games, the Americans raised serious questions about whether they can achieve their goal of becoming the first reigning World Cup champion to win a gold medal — and maybe whether it can advance out of a group that also includes a strong Australian team.
Sweden, which played the Americans to a draw in an April friendly, thoroughly dominated in a manner foreign to the U.S. and its legions of fans, many of whom woke up in the wee hours back home. Sweden outshot the U.S., 16-13, and gained nine corners compared with the U.S.’s three. Sweden manhandled the Americans, winning balls with both speed and strength.
Stina Blackstenius scored Sweden’s first two goals, on a header in the 25th minute and off a corner kick in the 54th. Lina Hurtig added Sweden’s final goal in the 72nd minute. The U.S. had not lost by three goals since a 3-0 loss to Brazil at the 2017 SheBelieves Cup.
The U.S. will next play Saturday against New Zealand, a game it desperately needs if it wants to advance.