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U.S. women expected to beat New Zealand, stay alive in Olympic soccer

United States Women's National Team forward Christen Press takes a shot against Sweden in a group stage game at the 2020 Summer Games on Wednesday at Tokyo Stadium in Tokyo. Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI
United States Women's National Team forward Christen Press takes a shot against Sweden in a group stage game at the 2020 Summer Games on Wednesday at Tokyo Stadium in Tokyo. Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI | License Photo

July 23 (UPI) -- New Zealand will see a motivated United States Women's National Team, which sustained a rare loss in its last game, when the teams meet in the group stage of the 2020 Summer Games on Saturday in Saitama, Japan.

U.S. women's team forward Megan Rapinoe told NBC on Friday that the team held a tough practice after the 3-0 loss Wednesday to Sweden. That setback snapped a 44-game unbeaten streak, which lasted more than 2 1/2 years.

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The Americans attempt to rebound at 7:30 a.m. EDT at Saitama Stadium. The Group G game airs on NBC Sports Network.

"We don't lose very often and we don't lose like that very often," Rapinoe told commentator Mike Tirico during NBC's broadcast of the Opening Ceremony as the team was riding on a bus.

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"We have a match [Saturday]. That's what we're looking forward to. We just need to take care of business. ... We need to do better."

The U.S. women's team's last stretch of consecutive losses occurred in 2017. England beat the U.S. women March 4 in the group stage of the 2017 SheBelieves Cup. France beat the Americans 3-0 three days later at the same tournament.

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The U.S. women are 15-1-1 against New Zealand in their all-time series. The Americans beat New Zealand 5-0 in their last game in 2019.

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"Last thing I would want to be right now is the next opponent of this team," former U.S. women's star Abby Wambach tweeted Wednesday. "Nobody puts baby in the corner."

Australia beat New Zealand 2-1 in another Group G opener Wednesday in Tokyo. But the U.S. women, ranked No. 1 in the world, sit behind New Zealand at the bottom of the Group G standings because they allowed two more goals.

Sweden tops Group G. Each of the four Group G teams matches up in a single game as a part of the round-robin format in the first round. The two top teams from Group G will automatically advance to the knockout round. The top two third-place teams in the tournament also advance.

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The first qualifier for the next round is the best record through three games of group play. If teams log the same record, their goal differential and goals scored could be used to determine who moves on.

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No. 6 England and the Netherlands, ranked No. 4, top the other two groups in the 12-team tournament. No. 22 New Zealand is the third-lowest ranked team in the tournament, ahead of No. 37 Chile and No. 95 Zambia.

No. 5 Sweden battles No. 9 Australia in Saturday's other Group G match.

A re-airing of the U.S. women's game against New Zealand airs at 5:30 p.m. EDT Saturday on USA.

The Americans face Australia in their final group stage game at 4 a.m. EDT Tuesday at Ibaraki Kashima Stadium in Kashima, Japan. That game also airs on USA.

The women's gold medal match for the 2020 Summer Games is at 10 p.m. EDT Aug. 5 in Tokyo and airs on USA.

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France goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni can't stop a goal from Mexico forward Uriel Antuna (not seen) in a Men's Group A soccer match during the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games on July 22. Photo by Bob Strong/UPI | License Photo

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