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Megan Rapinoe, 15, of the United States reacts during her team's 3-0 loss on July 21. Photo: Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

The U.S. women's national soccer team boasts back-to-back World Cup champion status, has ranked first or second in the world every year since 2003 and until Wednesday's opener against Sweden, had not lost a game in 44 matches.

The big picture: But after a disappointing performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where the women failed to reach the gold medal game for the first time in history, the team is looking for redemption on the Olympic stage in Tokyo.

  • The team is also seeking a back-to-back double — winning the Olympics after winning the Women's World Cup — which has never been done before by any women's team.
When to watch:
  • Group stage:
    • July 21 - Sweden defeated USA, 3-0
    • July 24 - USA overwhelmed New Zealand, 6-1
    • July 27 at 4 a.m. ET vs. Australia
  • Quarterfinals - July 30
  • Semifinals - Aug. 2
  • Medal matches - Aug. 5
Who to watch:

An 18-player team of predominately WNT veterans — 17 played on the 2019 World Cup squad — will vie for gold in Japan. Some familiar faces include:

  • Alex Morgan, who has scored 110 goals in 180 international game, is one of the most prolific strikers in women's soccer history.
    • The 32-year-old, who gave birth in May 2020, scored the game-winning goal in the final seconds of extra time in a nail-biting semifinal against Canada at the 2012 London Games.
  • Carli Lloyd will play in her fourth Olympic Games at age 39, making her the oldest player the U.S. women's national team has ever sent to the Olympics.
    • Lloyd was named the best women's player in the world twice by FIFA and is one of three players — male or female — to appear in 3oo or more international matches, per NPR.
  • Megan Rapinoe, 35, who scored the game-winning goal in the 2019 World Cup final, will become a three-time Olympian this summer.
    • Former co-captain of the team and winner of the Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards in 2019, Rapinoe is active off the pitch as an outspoken advocate for pay equity and the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Check out the full U.S. WNT roster here.
What they're saying:
  • "We have a very experienced roster that has been through adversity at the highest levels," coach Vlatko Andonovski said, per USA Today.
  • "It can feel like there is a bit of a burden just with the pressure of being on this team and the expectations we hold for ourselves," captain Becky Sauerbrunn, 36, told the Post.
  • "But this team, when we are at our absolute best is when everyone is brave and feels free to do what they need to do on the ball and their best is showcased. … We know how good we can be as long as we are free," Sauerbrunn added.
Olympic medals...
  • 🥇- 1996 Atlanta Games
  • 🥈- 2000 Sydney Games
  • 🥇- 2004 Athens Games
  • 🥇- 2008 Beijing Games
  • 🥇- 2012 London Games
Go deeper:

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the team's loss to Sweden, and win against New Zealand.

Go deeper

Jul 23, 2021 - Sports

U.S. women's soccer files brief in appeal of equal pay lawsuit

U.S. players pose for a photo before their match against Sweden on July 21, 2021. Photo: Guo Chen/Xinhua via Getty Images

The U.S. women's national soccer team filed an opening brief Friday in the appeal of their lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation for gender-based pay discrimination.

The big picture: The brief, filed with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, seeks to reverse a prior district court decision "based on a flawed analysis of the team’s compensation, despite the abundant evidence of unequal pay," per a press release.

Jul 23, 2021 - Sports

Basketball star Sue Bird enters Tokyo Olympics chasing 5th gold medal

Sue Bird dribbles the ball during the AT&T WNBA All-Star Game on July 14 at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

When there was no WNBA in the early 1990s, a then-teenaged Sue Bird looked to Olympic women basketball players for inspiration. Decades later, Bird — one of the greatest WNBA players of all time — will enter the Tokyo Olympics chasing her fifth gold medal.

The big picture: Bird, 40, began her Olympic journey in 2004 in Athens. She has since helped Team USA win four gold medals. The Seattle Storm point guard will likely wrap up her Olympic career in Tokyo, according to TIME.

Updated Jul 23, 2021 - Axios Denver

Colorado athletes to watch at the Tokyo Olympics

Expand chart
Data: Team USA; Cartogram: Connor Rothschild/Axios

Colorado counts 34 athletes in the Olympic Games in more than 14 sports and 23 disciplines, according to Team USA.

Why it matters: We love to cheer for our hometown heroes as they go for the gold!

By the numbers: Colorado's athlete count is the third most in the nation — behind California's 126 and Florida's 51, according to an Axios analysis.

  • The athletes self-report their hometowns.
  • In reality, dozens more Olympians live in Colorado because they train here — and the same goes for athletes from other countries, too.

Meet the athletes here:

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