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After loss to Sweden, here’s the path to gold for the USWNT

Brad Smith/ISI Photos

Losing the opener is certainly not the way the U.S. women’s national team wanted to start the Olympics, but it’s also not the end of the road.

There is still a path to gold, and history, for the USWNT. Plus, they’ve been in a similar situation before. 

In 2008, the team lost to Norway 2-0 in the opener but rebounded in the group stage, beating both Japan and New Zealand to advance. From there they beat Canada and Japan in the knockout stage, setting up a showdown with Brazil in the gold medal match. There, they beat the Brazilians 1-0 in overtime. 

So it’s not impossible, but Wednesday’s loss certainly makes things more difficult.

The USWNT needs to finish first or second in their group in order to advance to the knockout round. This makes Saturday’s match a must-win against New Zealand, and likely sets up a winner-take-all clash with Australia next Tuesday.

If Sweden continues their strong start and takes first place in Group G and the United States rebounds to get second place, the USWNT will play the first place finisher from Group F, likely either Brazil or the Netherlands, in the quarterfinal. Brazil beat China 5-0 in their opener, while the Netherlands beat Zambia 10-3. 

No matter what, the road to gold looks a lot tougher than it did 24 hrs ago. 

“Bad night tonight, so we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, and it’s going to be a tough road,” team captain Becky Sauerbrunn said after the game. “But I have the faith that we can do it.”