Olympics: USWNT will open against very familiar foes

The USA was drawn with three very familiar foes in women's soccer at the Summer Olympics.

The USA will open play in Group G against Sweden, which knocked it out of the last Olympics in the quarterfinals, and then face New Zealand and Australia, both coached by former members of the U.S. national team staff.

Here's a look at the three opponents along with U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski's view on each:

The Swedes recently gave the USA its toughest match since the 2019 Women's World Cup. They played to a 1-1 tie in Stockholm, but the Swedes had the better chances and were unlucky to have a late penalty awarded to the USA for a foul that appeared outside of the area.

Sweden offers a combination of athleticism, savvy and composure that most of the USA's foes lack. It is one of only three European teams in the Olympics. The Netherlands, Sweden and England (Great Britain in the Olympics) qualified as the top three European teams at the 2019 World Cup, finishing second, third and fourth behind the USA.

Past Meetings:
1996: Sweden 2-1
2016: Tie 1-1 (Sweden advances 4-3 on penalties)
World Cup:
1991: USA 3-2
2003: USA 3-1
2007: USA 2-0
2011: Sweden 2-1
2015: Tie 0-0
2019: USA 2-0

The USA leads the series with 23 wins, 7 losses and 12 ties.

July 21 in Tokyo, Japan

Venue: Tokyo Stadium.
Kickoff: 5:30 p.m. local / 4:30 a.m. ET

Vlatko's take: “Sweden is obviously fresh in our minds coming off the match in Stockholm, but we of course already knew how talented they are, how athletic they are and how dedicated they are to their tactics. The USA and Sweden have a long history of meeting in world championships, and this will surely be another great match to open the tournament.”

New Zealand. The USA and New Zealand will meet for the fourth straight time in the Olympics. The USA won the previous meetings, all by shutouts.

The Football Ferns are coached by Tom Sermanni, who was the U.S. national team head coach in 2013-14, giving such current players as Julie Ertz, Christen Press, Lindsey Horan, Crystal Dunn and Kristie Mewis their first caps.

It's been almost two and a half years since New Zealand qualified for the Olympics out of the Oceania region. And the Football Ferns have not played a game in 14 months since finishing fourth at the 2020 Algarve Cup.

Past Meetings:

2008: USA 4-0
2012: USA 2-0
2016: USA 2-0

USA leads series with record of 15 wins, 1 loss, 1 tie.

Match up:
July 24 in Saitama, Japan
Venue: Saitama Stadium.
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. local / 7:30 a.m. ET.

Vlatko's take“One thing we know New Zealand brings every time we play them is tremendous heart. They also have some very experienced players who have played in multiple world championships and in top leagues, so they won’t be intimidated by the moment. We also know that they will be organized in the back and not afraid to get forward, so playing New Zealand always brings challenges.”

Australia. The Matildas have one of the talented teams in women's soccer though their play has been hit or miss in recent years. They handed the USA a 1-0 defeat at the 2017 Tournament of Nations in Seattle and one of only two defeats in the last four years.

Swede Tony Gustavsson, Jill Ellis' chief assistant during her six years as U.S. national team coach, was hired to coach Australia in 2020, but it suffered a pair of drubbings during the April window, a 5-2 loss to Germany and 5-0 loss to the Netherlands.

Australia is led by Sam Kerr, the NWSL's all-time leading scorer. Most of the Matildas once played in the NWSL but have since moved to Europe. Kerr plays for Chelsea, which moved closer to clinching England's Women's Super League with a 2-2 tie at Manchester City on Wednesday.

Past Meetings:

2004: Tie 1-1
World Cup:
1995: USA 4-1
2015: USA 3-1

USA leads series with record of 24 wins, 1 loss, 3 ties.

Match up:
July 27 in Kashima, Japan
Venue: Ibaraki Kashima Stadium
Kickoff: 5 p.m. local / 4 a.m. ET

Vlatko's takeWhen Australia is playing well, they can be one of the world’s best teams. We all know they have as much attacking talent as any team in the Olympics and that always makes USA-Australia games very entertaining for the fans and guaranteed to stretch us physically.”

1 comment about "Olympics: USWNT will open against very familiar foes".
  1. Santiago 1314, April 22, 2021 at 8:51 p.m.

    Have the US Women Fallen into the Same Trap as the "Spoiled DA Men".??? ... I am Afraid so... Too worried about Contracts, Social Justices and Suing Their Boss ...  We shall see,... If the Olympics even Come Off.???

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