Despite loss, US women still favorites

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Well, that's not the start we wanted.

Early Wednesday morning, several sports began their Olympic journey in Tokyo, notably with softball and women's soccer.

In a stunning upset, Sweden blanked the U.S. Women's national team, 3-0, breaking a 44-match win streak by the U.S..

Entering the Tokyo Games, the U.S. Women were the projected gold medal winners as well as the No. 1 team in the world.

There's a lot pressure on a team that's expected to go all the way, but in a way, maybe an early loss can serve as a wakeup call.

This just wasn't the dominant U.S. team we've become accustomed to seeing.

Point blank, the U.S. looked flat for much of the first half.

But, as stated, maybe this early loss is a good thing.

Gone is the pressure of the 44-match win streak. Gone is the pressure of running the gamut in the Games unbeaten.

The U.S. has had quite the history with Sweden, who has become a nemesis of sorts.

In the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Sweden knocked the U.S. out of the tournament in the quarterfinals, marking the earliest exit by the U.S. since women's soccer was added to the Games.

Despite the loss, there is precedent for the U.S. to bounce back and forge a trek to the top of the medal podium.

In the 2008 Beijing Games, the U.S. suffered a first-match loss to Norway but rebounded to win the gold in the end.

This is absolutely not the end for the best soccer team in the world, but it should serve as a wakeup call.

The problem with being the best is you're never the hunter—you're the hunted.

And the U.S. Women are Target No. 1 for the world.

For now, the U.S. will have to shift its focus to New Zealand on Saturday.

Sweden will advance to face Australia, with the top two teams in Group G heading to the elimination round.

The 12-team tournament were split into three groups of four, with the top two finishers in each group automatically advancing to the tournament quarterfinals.

Again, there is no need to hit the panic button—yet.

The U.S. needs to bounce back in convincing fashion against New Zealand.

We have the best players in the world and the path to Olympic glory is ours for the taking.

Our girls just have to go out and take care of business.

Chris Siers is sports editor of the Tribune. Email him at sports@t-g.com.

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