Vlatko Andonovski: “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.” 

U.S. women’s national coach Vlatko Andonovski had plenty to say about his team’s Group G opponents in the Olympic soccer tournament this summer.

The U.S. women’s national team will kick off the competition against the Sweden at Tokyo Stadium in Tokyo, Japan in the first game of a doubleheader July 21. The team will face New Zealand at Saitama Stadium in Saitama July 24 before finishing group play against Australia in Kashima Stadium in Kashima July 27.

“After waiting an extra year for this Olympics, the draw represents a real milestone in our journey and helps us focus in even more on our preparation and what we need to do to achieve our goals,” Andonovski said on the www.ussoccer.com. “We have great respect for all three of our group opponents and we know this tournament will push us to our limits both mentally and physically, as well as challenge us every game technically and tactically, so we will do everything we can in the next three months to prepare for success.”

The Swedes eliminated the Americans from the 2016 Rio Olympics on penalty kicks in the quarterfinal round, which was the USA’s earliest exit in a world championship. The USA played Sweden to a 1-1 draw in Stockholm April 10.

“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,” Andonovski said. “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.”

At the Rio Summer Games, the USWNT opened group play against New Zealand, winning 2-0 on goals from Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd. The USA most recently played New Zealand in the lead-up to the 2019 Women’s World Cup, winning, 5-0, in St. Louis May 16, 2019.

“One thing we know New Zealand brings every time we play them is tremendous heart,” Andonovski said. “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.”

The USWNT is 1-1-1 vs. Australia in the last three meetings between the sides, recording a 5-3 victory in the most recent match April 4, 2019 in Commerce City, Colorado, which was also a World Cup preparation game. The Matildas boast arguably the best women’s player in the world in Sam Kerr.

“When Australia is playing well, they can be one of the world’s best teams,” Andonovski said. “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.”

 

TOKYO OLYMPICS SCHEDULE — U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM

 

Date                Opponent       Venue                                                             Kickoff

July 21            Sweden           Tokyo, Japan (Tokyo Stadium)                      5:30 p.m. local / 4:30 a.m. ET

July 24             New Zealand  Saitama, Japan (Saitama Stadium)               8:30 p.m. local / 7:30 a.m. ET

July 27             Australia          Kashima, Japan (Ibaraki Kashima Stadium) 5 p.m. local / 4 a.m. ET