Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and co. take on Rio 2016 nemesis Sweden, with neighbours Australia and New Zealand joining them in Group G of the women's Olympic Football Tournament.
Favourites USA have been drawn against Sweden, the team that defeated them in a penalty shootout at Rio 2016, after the draw was made for the women's Olympic Football Tournament at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.
Team USA, who haven't lost a match since January 2019, will be looking to dispel the demons of five years ago when they take on the Swedes in the group opener this summer in Tokyo. While the odds are on the Americans navigating their way through a challenging Group F that also includes Oceania neighbours Australia and New Zealand, it won't be plain sailing as they take aim at a fifth Olympic gold.
Sweden, who finished third at the World Cup in 2019 and are led by a new generation of players including Real Madrid's Sofia Jakobson and Kosovare Asslani, were the last team to stop the USWNT from winning, when they ground out a 1-1 friendly draw in April 2021.
Australia's Matildas will also pose strong opposition in what looks to be the tournament's so-called group of death. The team, captained by Chelsea's Sam Kerr, will be hoping to improve upon their Rio 2016 performance, when they lost on penalties against Brazil in the quarterfinals. Not many know the USA setup better than Australia's coach Tony Gustavsson, who was the USA's assistant coach during the last Olympic Games.
In a fascinating repeat of history, this isn't the first time the USA, Sweden and Australia have been drawn together in a major tournament. They were part of the same group at the 2015 World Cup, with all three teams eventually advancing to the knockout stages.
“After waiting an extra year for this Olympics, the draw represents a real milestone in our journey and helps us focus in even more on our preparation and what we need to do to achieve our goals,” said USA coach Vlatko Andonovski, who is preparing for his first major tournament in charge. “We have great respect for all three of our group opponents and we know this tournament will push us to our limits both mentally and physically, as well as challenge us every game technically and tactically, so we will do everything we can in the next three months to prepare for success.”
Draw host Lindsay Tarpley, who was part of the gold medal-winning USA sides at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, was optimistic about her nation's form heading into Tokyo 2020 (in 2021): "I'm excited," she said from Zurich. "The USA, full of veteran leadership, young talent, well-coached... I love how they're playing. Technically and tactically, they're doing so many things well."
Hosts Japan and Great Britain tangle in Group E
Japan, the host nation and 2011 World Cup winners, were drawn in a tricky Group E which also includes Great Britain, Canada and Chile.
This will be Chile's first introduction to Olympic football, having played in their first World Cup in 2019. Great Britain, led by Hege Riise, are due to participate in their first Olympics since London 2012, with all four constituent football associations - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - available for selection.
“Now that we know what our tournament journey will look like and the opponents we face, we can really focus in on our preparations for the Olympics," said Great Britain coach Riise, who won the 1995 Women's World Cup as a player with her native Norway. “There is no doubt we have been drawn in a very exciting group. The host nation Japan are an extremely talented team and have been a strong force in women’s football for many years."
Carli Lloyd scores twice as the United States beat Japan 2-1 in the final at London 2012.
The Japanese, who won silver in 2012 at the London Games, will be hoping their more technical brand of football can see them navigate a difficult group that also includes a Canadian team that won bronze medals at the last two editions of the Olympic Games.
"We know what we want and it's what everyone else wants - a medal," said Japanese coach and former player Asako Takakura. "There will be a lot happening at these Games...I hope we can win a medal and serve as a beacon of light not just for women's football but anyone and everyone".
Watch a full replay of the women's OFT draw below:
Brazil, Dutch lead the Group F pack
In a tournament that has drawn up no easy groups, People's Republic of China will take on two-time silver medallists Brazil in Group F, as well as two countries making their debuts at the Games: Netherlands and Zambia.
Three of the four teams participated in the last FIFA World Cup (People's Republic of China, Brazil and Netherlands), with the talented Netherlands finishing the competition as runners-up. Zambia, who have never competed in a World Cup and only participated in three African Women's Championships are somewhat of an unknown force in the football world.
It sets up an intriguing set of encounters where predicting the winners will be a difficult task.
Women's Olympic Football Tournament full draw
Group E: Japan, Canada, Great Britain, Chile
Group F: China PR, Brazil, Zambia, Netherlands
Group G: Sweden, USA, Australia, New Zealand