Sweden didn’t have to bunker down on defence against the Americans this time.
Stina Blackstenius scored a pair of goals and the Swedes stunned the United States at the Olympics with a 3-0 victory Wednesday in the women’s soccer tournament.
The Americans, ranked No. 1 in the world and the favourites to win gold in Tokyo, were riding a 44-match unbeaten streak heading into the match. But Sweden, ranked No. 5, has been the U.S. team’s nemesis of sorts in recent years. The Swedes bounced the Americans from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games in the quarter-finals, the earliest U.S. Olympic exit ever, by making a defensive stand.
This April, Sweden played the United States to a 1-1 draw in Stockholm, which snapped a winning streak dating back to January 2019 when the Americans lost to France in the run-up to the World Cup. It was the U.S. team’s only draw this year.
“Did we expect this result tonight? No,” said U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe, who did not start but came on as a substitute in the 64th minute with the score 2-0. “It’s frustrating, and it’s frustrating that it’s Sweden. They found a lot of space on us. I don’t even know how many goals we have given up this whole year. I don’t remember the last time we gave up a goal. So to give up three is not great.”
Sweden’s offence deserved all the credit. Blackstenius’ header into the far corner off a cross from Sofia Jakobsson in the 26th minute gave the team a first-half lead.
The United States, which came out stale, had its best chance of the opening half in the final moments when Rose Lavelle’s shot hit the post. Coach Vlatko Andonovski made changes for the second half, subbing in Carli Lloyd for Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz for Sam Mewis.
But Blackstenius scored again in the 54th minute, beating goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, as the Americans continued to struggle. Lina Hurtig added the final goal in the 72nd.
Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl acknowledged the win over the favourites was encouraging, but it’s still just the beginning of the tournament. Ahead are group games against Australia and New Zealand.
“I know for a fact that you can go very far in a tournament even if you lose to the USA or whoever you play in the first game,” Lindahl said. “So in the end I don’t know how much it means, but for sure we showed the world and ourselves that we can play well against a team like the U.S. or any team.”
The loss was the first for the United States under Andonovski, who took over when former coach Jill Ellis stepped down following the team’s World Cup victory in France. Late in the match, Andonovski sat expressionless on the bench.
The Swedes were without Magda Eriksson because of injury. The team said she has been training, but because of the compact schedule of the tournament she was held out of the opener.
Tokyo is Sweden’s seventh Olympics. After getting eliminated by Sweden on penalties in the quarter-finals five years ago, U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo famously called the Swedes cowards for their defensive tactics.
Sweden went on to win the silver medal, losing to Germany 2-1 in the final.
The United States has been to all seven Olympics that have included women’s soccer, too, winning four Olympic gold medals, more than any other nation. The team is vying to become the first to win Olympic gold following a World Cup title.
In 2008, the United States also lost its first match, 2-0 to Norway, but went on to win the gold medal.
“I think ultimately as an athlete you go through ups and downs, and this is a hard result but it’s the nature of a tough tournament,” U.S. forward Christen Press said. “It wasn’t going to be easy. We weren’t going to breeze through six games no matter what. So here we are.”
It was just the sixth time that the United States had lost by three or more goals.
Sweden now leads Group G heading into Saturday’s game against Australia in Saitama, while the United States faces New Zealand at the same stadium. The top two teams in the group advance to the knockout round.
“It is what it is,” Rapinoe said. “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.”
Sign up for The Globe’s Olympic newsletter and follow all of the news, features and opinion in the lead-up to the Summer Games in Tokyo.
The Edmonton Oilers select big German defender Luca Munzenberger at #90 overall – Edmonton Journal
The Edmonton Oilers trading down on Day #1 of the NHL draft was converted not 24 hours later into Defenceman Luca Munzenbeger.
Gotta love the name! Munzenberger is an 18-year old out of Dusseldorf, Germany. He has a late (November) 2002 birth date.
He’s a big, left-handed shot at 6’3, 194 LBS.
Munzenberger spent the majority of 2020-21 with Kolner Junghaie of the DNL U20. In 6 games he went 1-2-3 and served as Team Captain. His time in junior versus pro left open the door for him to play in college. Munzenberger also played for Team Germany at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton (0-0-0 in 5GP). More on that in a minute…
Munzenberger is considered to be an excellent PK man, but possesses a big shot which makes him a threat from the point as well. Scouts say he has a soft set of hands and makes an effective first-pass out of his own zone. Those who have seen him play, namely amateur scout Brock Otten, describe the kid as a “suffocating physical defender” with a mean streak. He’s an above-average skater for his size with a massive stride and a big wingspan. He’s effective at clearing the slot and his reach helps him get to pucks ahead of attackers. In my own viewing of his highlights from the WJC’s, Munzenberger closes quickly and effectively on the opposition along the walls. The foot-speed, reach and size are visibly key tools in his ability to break up the cycle.
A side note from that tournament that may indicate the quality of his intangibles: Munzenberger was in COVID quarantine at the very beginning ot the WJ’s, but emerged from that status prior to Christmas and rebounded with a strong performance. That would seem to speak to the kid’s resilience. The young man in a foreign country responded to a stressful situation and considerable uncertainty extremely well.
Draft analyst Steve Kournianos says of him: “A big bodied vacuum cleaner on defence… He has ideal size but the mobility and agility to cover faster players… He plays a mean, physical brand of hockey and can be considered a throwback… He has soft hands and delivers clean passes to any area in the offensive zone, but what makes Munzenberger dangerous is his lethal shot — he owns a bomb of a shot, not only for its velocity but for the sheer power he generates with little backswing. His wrister is just as nasty.”
It is fair to consider this pick as somewhat “off the board”. Elite Prospects had him at #214. No other service had him listed at all. One wonders if fellow countryman Leon Draisaitl had and offered any insight on the player to the Oilers draft team? He and his father surely know of every sharp prospect in that nation.
Munzenberger is committed to NCAA University of Vermont in 2022-23 which offers another interesting tidbit. Todd Woodcroft is the coach of that program, the brother of Bakersfield Condors bench boss Jay Woodcroft. So, there may well be some added insight from that connection.
Montreal Canadiens select Joe Vrbetic with 214th pick – Habs Eyes on the Prize
After a very long day, the Montreal Canadiens final picks are finally upon us, with 214th overall being up first. The Habs acquired this pick after trading out of an earlier round, and with this pick the team selected Joe Vrbetic from OHL’s North Bay Battalion.
Unfortunately like many other prospects in the OHL, Vrbetic was not able to play this year due to the Covid pandemic. In his last full season he posted a 4.23 goals against, an .881 save percentage along with a 14-25-1 record on a dreadful North Bay team that won just 17 out of 62 games.
The Habs have the penultimate pick in the draft at 223rd overall this year coming up.
Tokyo Olympics: Michael Woods was milliseconds away from podium finish in thrilling road race – The Globe and Mail
Latest Olympic updates
OLYMPIC EVENTS FOR JULY 24
- Soccer: Canada’s women’s soccer team won 2-1 over their Chilean opponents, with both goals supplied by Janine Beckie. This victory brings the team one step closer to securing a spot in the quarter-finals. Canada will next face off against Britain on Tuesday.
- Cycling: Michael Woods of Ottawa came close to becoming Canada’s first medal finish after placing fifth in the men’s road race, milliseconds away from the podium. Woods pushed his chase group forward, just trailing behind eventual gold-medal winner Richard Carapaz of Ecuador. Woods finished just one minute and seven seconds behind Carapaz.
- Judo: Japan’s Naohisa Takato won gold in the men’s under 60 kilogram competition for judo, with Japan’s Funa Tonaki securing silver in the women’s under 48 kilogram category. Japan, the birthplace of judo, holds more medals in the sport than any other country. With 86 medals in total, one in five of Japan’s Olympic medals are in judo.
- Tennis: Canadian lefthander Leylah Fernandez won her opening match against Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska, putting her through to the second round. Fernandez, an 18-year old from Montreal, won her sets in after just over two hours on a hot Tokyo afternoon.
- Beach volleyball: Canada’s Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan beat Katja Stam and Raisa Schoon of the Netherlands 2-0 on the first day of beach volleyball at the Olympics. The pair have played together for five years and qualified for the Olympics thanks to their 2019 World Championships win. Their next game is on Monday against Germany.
- Gymnastics: After a fall on the horizontal bars, Japan’s “King Kohei” Uchimura is out of the Olympics. The 32-year old Uchimura is considered one of the best male gymnasts of all time. For two full Olympic cycles, Uchimura had won every competition he entered. He holds seven Olympic medals and became the first man in 44 years to win back-to-back individual all-around Olympic golds at the Rio 2016 Games.
OFF THE FIELD
- Refugees: Three athletes competing for the Refugee Olympic team will attend Sheridan College in Ontario this fall as part of the first cohort of a new athletic stream of the Student Refugee Program. Rose Nathike Likonyen, Paulo Amotun Lokoro and James Nyang Chiengjiek fled South Sudan as children and grew up in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya where they currently live.
- Dressage: “He’s definitely here with us,” Jamie Kellock said of her late brother, Jonathan. Jamie is attending the Tokyo Olympics as a groom while her sister Lindsay makes her Team Canada debut in dressage. Their brother died of a brain tumour just seven months ago. He was a ski racer and coach in Whistler, B.C. before he passed away at 29.
- New parents: Officials from the Tokyo Olympics said they have tried to find solutions for new parents who want to bring their young children to Tokyo while they compete. The issue was raised when Spanish synchronized swimmer Ona Carbonell announced on Instagram that she had to travel to Tokyo without her husband and breastfeeding infant son because they would not have been allowed to quarantine together in the Olympic village.
Situation in Tokyo, by numbers
WHAT IS THE OLYMPIC MEDAL TALLY IN TOKYO SO FAR?
So far, China has the most gold medals, two, followed by Japan, Korea, Thailand, Iran, Ecuador, Kosovo, Italy with one gold each. Canada has no medals yet.
JAPAN’S LATEST COVID-19 DATA
WHAT TIME IS IT IN TOKYO RIGHT NOW?
Olympic highlights for July 24
Canadian athletes at Tokyo Olympics in photos
Opinion: At the Tokyo Olympics, Michael Woods was a hair’s breadth away from being the stuff of national lore
Michael Woods came milliseconds away from the podium during the men’s road race, and milliseconds away from forever capturing the hearts and minds of Canadians. Despite the near miss, Woods’ performance was captivating. Columnist Cathal Kelly writes, “When he is up in the saddle and headed to vertical, Woods is something to watch. He’s like a piston with arms.”
Penny Oleksiak, women’s swimming team face Olympic-sized expectations in Tokyo
The Canadian women’s swimming team won big at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, bringing home six medals. They surprised Canada, the world, and even themselves. Fast forward to today’s Tokyo Olympic Games, and Canada wants them to do it all over again. At the centre of the team is Penny Oleksiak, who spearheaded Rio’s medal captures despite being just 16 at the time. She arrives in Tokyo with massive expectations on her shoulders.
Taiwan competes as ‘Chinese Taipei’, broadcaster jumps through hoops to appease China
Nathan VanderKlippe, currently reporting from Tokyo, shares musings about the geopolitics present at the Olympic Games. The International Olympic Committee does not allow Taiwan – a self-governed nation – to compete under its own name, instead appearing as Chinese Taipei under a special flag. Online streaming service Tencent interrupted its coverage of the opening ceremony to ensure Chinese viewers didn’t have to see the Taiwanese athletes participate in the parade.
Tokyo Olympic events to watch tomorrow, July 25
- Swimming: Keep an eye out for Kylie Masse in the women’s 100-metre backstroke and 14-year-old Summer McIntosh of Toronto in the women’s 400-metre freestyle events.
- Judo: Elimination rounds are scheduled for 10 p.m. (ET) for the women’s 57-kilogram, the weight category for Jessica Klimkait of Team Canada.
- Diving: Canada will compete in the women’s three-metre synchronized springboard, represented by the veteran Olympian Jennifer Abel alongside Melissa Citrini-Beaulieu, who is making her Olympic debut this year.
- Taekwondo: In the women’s 57-kilogram weight class, Skylar Park is hoping to bring home Canada’s first medal in taekwondo since the 20018 Beijing Olympics. She topped the podium in the sport at the Pan Am Games this year.
- Cycling: Leah Kirchmann of Winnipeg, Karol-Ann Canuel of Amos, Que., and Alison Jackson of Vermilion, Alta are competing in the women’s road race alongside 64 other competitors. The race kicks off in Tokyo and brings the cyclists 137 kilometres to the foothills of Mount Fuji.
Check the full Olympic schedule for the latest event times and competitors.
The Tokyo Olympics: Essential reads
What athletes and teams should Canadians look out for? Consult our guide.
How did Canada’s swimmers use data to get stronger? Grant Robertson explains.
NB businesses ponder how to proceed once pandemic restrictions are removed – CBC.ca
A classic investing read for summer (psst … it’s free) – The Globe and Mail
Google Doodle Champion Island Games has been completed in 11 seconds – Gamesradar
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
News17 hours ago
India flights to Canada: When will they be allowed? – Canada Immigration News
Sports13 hours ago
2021 NHL Draft day one recap: Trades! Trades! Trades! and more Trades! – Pension Plan Puppets
Health19 hours ago
Delta variant of COVID-19 now makes up nearly 4 in 10 cases in B.C., data shows – Global News
Health15 hours ago
CDC Panel Says J&J COVID-19 Vaccine Benefits Outweigh Risks – Healthline
Sports15 hours ago
Canadian flag-bearer's parents delightfully cheer on daughter from across the world – Yahoo Canada Sports
Sports24 hours ago
Coyotes trade Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland to Canucks – Arizona Sports
Sports18 hours ago
Canadian cyclist Michael Woods just misses podium after gruelling 234-km ride – CBC.ca
Sports9 hours ago
2021 NHL Draft Tracker: Round 1 picks, notes; Results for Rounds 2-7 – NHL