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U.S. women’s soccer team opens Tokyo Olympics with showdown match

FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019"Women:  United States of America v The Netherlands"

goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher of USA women, Mallory Pugh of USA women, Samantha Mewis of USA women, Becky Sauerbrunn of USA women, Kelley O Hara of USA women, Morgan Brian of USA women, Abby Dahlkemper of USA women, Julie Ertz of USA women, Lindsey Horan of USA women, Carli Lloyd of USA women, Ali ~Krieger of USA women, Tierna Davidson of USA women, Alex Morgan of USA women, Emily Sonnett of USA women, Megan Rapinoe of USA women, Rose Lavelle of USA women, Tobin Heath of USA women, goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris of USA women, Crystal Dunn of USA women, Allie Long of USA women, goalkeeper Adrianna Franch of USA women, Jessica McDonald of USA women, Christen Press of USA women, coach Jill Ellis of USA women during the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 final match between United States of America and The Netherlands at Stade de Lyon on July 07, 2019 in Lyon, France(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)

VI-Images via Getty Images

The U.S. women’s soccer team’s first Tokyo Olympic opponent is Sweden, which knocked the Americans out of the Rio Olympics.

The Americans face the Swedes on July 21, the first day of competition across all sports and two days before the Opening Ceremony, at Tokyo Stadium.

Soccer traditionally begins group play before the cauldron is lit. Softball, returning to the Olympic program for the first time since 2008, also has games before the Opening Ceremony.

The U.S. was also grouped with Australia and New Zealand in Wednesday’s draw.

The top two teams in the group advance to the quarterfinals, which is where Sweden stunned the U.S. in penalty kicks at the Rio Games, marking the Americans’ only elimination in an Olympics or World Cup since 2011.

Then-U.S. goalie Hope Solo called the Swedes, then coached by former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage, “a bunch of cowards” for their style of play. Solo was suspended for six months and hasn’t played for the national team since.

The U.S. was also grouped with Sweden at the 2019 World Cup, winning 2-0 en route to a repeat title. No nation has followed a World Cup crown with an Olympic title.

The U.S. Olympic roster, led by new coach Vlatko Andonovski, hasn’t been named. It will likely include many of the top players from Rio, like Megan Rapinoe, who recently reflected on the Sweden defeat.

“We have very high standards for the team, which is championship or total failure, so we felt like total failures,” she said. “It definitely left, I wouldn’t say a bad taste. I think it left a fire under people to never let that happen again.”

In the men’s draw, Brazil and Germany were grouped together and meet in their opening match the day before the Opening Ceremony. That’s a rematch of the Rio Olympic final won on Neymar‘s penalty kick in a shootout at the Maracana.

The U.S. men failed to qualify for the Olympics for a third consecutive time.

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