US women's soccer's epic unbeaten streak comes to an end in Olympics match

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The U.S. women’s soccer team had its 44-game winning streak snapped in its first match of the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday, losing to Sweden 3-0.

While the opening ceremonies don’t get started until Friday, the U.S. women’s soccer team is among the handful of squads who start days before the Games officially get underway. But the early opportunity to get a quick win to start the Games was nullified.

Sweden got started early with a Stina Blackstenius header from the right side, beating American goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.

Blackstenius would score again in the 54th minute of the match to put Sweden up two goals, and the final nail in the coffin for the U.S. would come from Linda Hurting, who replaced Blackstenius in the 64th minute.

“It is what it is. We got bopped, and we have two more games coming quick and fast. And now we know exactly what we need to do. We need to win these games and eventually get out of the group and go from there,” the U.S.’ Megan Rapinoe said after the game.

Sweden’s victory snapped the Americans’ long unbeaten streak and amped up the rivalry between the two squads. The U.S. hadn’t lost a match since January 2019. The team lost to France in a pre-World Cup tune-up.

Sweden came in as the No. 5-ranked country in the world and had handed the U.S. an early exit in the 2016 Rio Games, the earliest the U.S. had been eliminated from the Olympics. 

Sweden won the silver medal in 2016, losing to Germany in the gold medal game.

The U.S., which is vying to become the first team to win a gold medal after winning a World Cup, lost its first match to Norway in 2008 and went on to win gold.

Sweden will play Australia on Saturday while the U.S. will play New Zealand.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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