USWNT suffer shock defeat in Tokyo 2020 opener: What happened? 

CHOFU, JAPAN - JULY 21: Stina Blackstenius #11 of Team Sweden celebrates with team mates after scoring their side's first goal during the Women's First Round Group G match between Sweden and United States during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Stadium on July 21, 2021 in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
CHOFU, JAPAN - JULY 21: Stina Blackstenius #11 of Team Sweden celebrates with team mates after scoring their side's first goal during the Women's First Round Group G match between Sweden and United States during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Stadium on July 21, 2021 in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Lauded as competition favourites by some, the USA were thrashed by Sweden in their Group G opening match. What went wrong for the USA?

Before a ball was even kicked in Group G, many may have touted the USA as favourites to win their fifth Olympic gold.

But the 2019 FIFA World Cup champions barely had time to settle their nerves as the whistle blew in their group opener.

From the off, Sweden were dominant and with a resounding 3-0 ended the USWNT's 44-match unbeaten run.

CHOFU, JAPAN - JULY 21: Stina Blackstenius #11 of Team Sweden celebrates after scoring their side's first goal during the Women's First Round Group G match between Sweden and United States during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Stadium on July 21, 2021 in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
CHOFU, JAPAN - JULY 21: Stina Blackstenius #11 of Team Sweden celebrates after scoring their side's first goal during the Women's First Round Group G match between Sweden and United States during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Stadium on July 21, 2021 in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
2021 Getty Images

What went wrong for the USA?

Over the course of the 90 minutes, not a lot seemed to go right for the USA.

Sweden had them pinned back in their own half for the majority of the game, struggling to get out.

Communication seemed to be amiss from top to bottom, but especially across the backline as Sweden were almost gifted opportunities at times.

It was evident specifically in Hurtig's goal, in which she stood unmarked to nod the ball past Naeher.

Lack of an out-and-out defensive midfielder

In their initial line-up, the midfield three consisted of Lindsey Horan, Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle.

Perhaps the most notable absence was Julie Ertz, the longstanding defensive midfielder for the Americans who faced a race to be fit for the Olympics.

More often that not, when the USA operate with a player protecting the back four it is much harder for teams to play through them.

And while the introduction of Ertz at half-time could have seen her bring more stability, her injury still visibly strapped is potential indication as to why this change did not pay off the way Vlatko Andonovski had hoped.

CHOFU, JAPAN - JULY 21: Julie Ertz #8 of Team United States looks dejected after the Women's First Round Group G match between Sweden and United States during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Stadium on July 21, 2021 in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
CHOFU, JAPAN - JULY 21: Julie Ertz #8 of Team United States looks dejected after the Women's First Round Group G match between Sweden and United States during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Stadium on July 21, 2021 in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
2021 Getty Images

No fluidity in transition or up-front

One thing many have come to expect from the way in which the USWNT play is how easy they transition from defence to attack, punishing opponents up front.

This game did not offer quite the same fortunes, however.

Difficulty in dealing the Swedish press meant their play was static, and they struggled to link up effectively enough to formulate enough clear cut chances to get them back into the game.

Even with the changes Andonovski made across his front three or in midfield, they just weren't effective enough to punish a Sweden back-line that lacked one of their best defenders in Magdalena Eriksson.

Make no mistake, though, the USA's lacklustre performances takes nothing away from the breathtaking display Sweden delivered.

What is next for the USA?

After suffering a heavy defeat to Sweden, the USA will now turn their attention to Saturday, July 24, when they take on New Zealand.

Andonovski will be looking for his side to hit back against the Kiwis, who opened their group campaign against Australia, and address the issues his side faced in their own opener.

Without a seemingly full fit Ertz to provide cover for the back four, a reassessment of approach may need to be made in order to ensure they don't succumb to the same high press as they did against the Swedes.

While a single game won't define their progression in Olympic football, how they comeback could very much be an indication of how they can handle the pressure when all eyes are on them once again.