The U.S. women’s national team opened the Olympics with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Sweden. The loss snapped a 44-match unbeaten run and looked like a shadow of the team that entered the tournament as heavy favorites. Megan Rapinoe: “We got our asses kicked, didn’t we?”

The United States women’s hockey team were beaten by Sweden in their opening game of the World Cup in Japan. The USWNT will face New Zealand in their second match on Saturday, and it would be an even bigger surprise if they did not respond to the result. Vlatko Andonovski’s side are looking less like the world’s best team and more like a side low on confidence and ability. So here are a few ways that the can turn things around in order to win the tournament.

ERTZ MUST RETURN

Julie Ertz made her first appearance in more than two months after returning from a knee injury as the u.s. lost – to Sweden in their opening euro match. The midfielder was on the bench for much of the first half, but came on at the break and played well. If she is healthy, she is therefore a must-start for the rest of the tournament.

Without a clear backup plan behind her, Ertz may be forced to start even if she is not 100 percent ready.

FIND THE RIGHT COMBO UP TOP

Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Tobin Heath combined for 12 goals and seven assists during the 2019 World Cup. The USWNT won the tournament with a 3-0 win over Sweden on Sunday. Coach Ivan Andonovski does not appear to be clear on which three players should lead the line in his own 4-3-3 formation.

USWNT coach

“SWEDEN IS A TACTICALLY REALLY SOPHISTICATED TEAM. THEY KNOW THEIR IDENTITY, THEY’RE AN EXPERIENCED TEAM, THEY’VE BEEN IN A LOT OF MAJOR TOURNAMENTS”

The USWNT lost to Sweden in the first game of the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals on Saturday. Coach Aleksandar Andonovski will have to find a way to get his team back on track quickly after the defeat.

USE THE ROSTER’S DEPTH

The USWNT got a major boost when the IOC ruled just before the Olympics that all 22 of each team’s rostered players are eligible for the 18-player gameday squad.

Suddenly, the team’s four alternates, including Casey Krueger, Catarina Macario and Lynn Williams, were in line for minutes in Japan without needing to replace an injured player.

With Andonovski likely to rotate his squad against New Zealand and coming off a performance like Sweden, it may be time to give the aforementioned trio a chance to show what they can do.

Macario could offer a spark with her attacking thrust and eye for a long-range goal, while Williams can stretch defenses with her pace out wide. 

Andonovski may also want to give a longer look to Tierna Davidson in defense and Kristie Mewis in midfield, after the pair made brief appearances off the bench against Sweden. 

DON’T PANIC!

The United States Women’s Olympic team suffered their worst loss in a competitive game since the 2007 World Cup against Brazil. The USWNT were beaten 3-0 by New Zealand in their opening match at the Rio Olympics on Wednesday. Coach Ivan Andonovski says his team were shocked by the result, but they will still progress to the quarterfinals.

“WE GOT BOPPED AND WE HAVE TWO MORE GAMES COMING QUICK AND FAST, AND NOW WE KNOW REALLY EXACTLY WHAT WE NEED TO DO,”

Rapinoe said.

“WE NEED TO WIN THESE GAMES AND EVENTUALLY, WE GET OUT OF THE GROUP AND GO FROM THERE.”

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