The match marked the fourth meeting between the U.S. and Sweden in Women’s World Cup play. The victory is Sweden’s second against the United States in 2011, and ended the team’s unbeaten record in group play after 18 total matches.
“I thought it was a good game today: entertaining but also tactically pretty interesting,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. “I’m happy with the way we created chances but disappointed we didn’t win the game. I really want us to embrace the pressure. I think we’ll get stronger and it will be inspiring to play against Brazil.”
Despite outshooting Sweden 20-9, the U.S. was foiled by the efforts of goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl who made several saves from close range while watching many other U.S. shots from distance miss their target.
The match began tensely in the opening minutes as both teams applied high pressure all over the field. The U.S. created the first real danger in the seventh minute when Carli Lloyd found space in transition and ripped a 30-yarder wide. On the ensuing goal kick, Lloyd’s attempted header in midfield skipped backwards, unintentionally putting Lotta Schelin through alone against U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo. With Solo standing tall, Schelin used her first touch to fire a low shot that Solo gamely kick-saved.
The U.S. nearly got on the board in the 13th minute, building off a nice pass from Amy LePeilbet to Amy Rodriguez. With a penetrating dribble, she slipped a ball to Abby Wambach, whose first-time left-footer to the near post was handled by Lindahl.
Three minutes later, Sweden grabbed the lead from the penalty spot when Schelin was bundled down in the area by LePeilbet. The referee did not hesitate in pointing to the spot and issuing a yellow card to the defender. Dahlkvist stepped up for Sweden, drilling a drive hard to her left. Solo guessed correctly but couldn’t keep out the powerful effort, the goal ending her shutout streak at 797 minutes.
The United States almost went even in the 20th minute after a nifty passing sequence sent Rodriguez flying down the left flank. Her cross into the penalty area deflected to Wambach, who strongly held off her defender and dropped a pass into the path of Lauren Cheney. The midfielder rifled a driven shot that whistled past the far post. Cheney had another chance less than 60 seconds later but her half-volley from 15 yards out sliced over the bar.
The U.S. continued to press with Cheney serving a dangerous cross from the left that was nicked by Lindahl as Wambach lurked behind. In the 32nd minute it was Rodriguez who earned herself a chance, outracing defender Charlotte Rohlin to the top of the area. With Lindahl off her line, Rodriguez attempted a chip that frustratingly skimmed off the top of the crossbar.
Sweden benefitted from an unfortunate deflection to take a 2-0 lead in the 35th minute. The free kick effort from 25 yards out by team captain Nilla Fischer would not have troubled Solo, but the ball ricocheted off LePeilbet’s thigh near the top of the 18 and caromed into the opposite corner.
Probing for a goal before halftime, U.S. captain Christie Rampone delivered a long free kick into the area. Lloyd pounced on the knock down, but Lindahl was well positioned to bat away her sliding shot.
Sundhage inserted Alex Morgan at halftime for Rodriguez and the U.S. continued its search to get back into the game. At the 50-minute mark Shannon Boxx launched a strike from distance that Lindahl bobbled and had to scramble to scoop while Wambach closed in. On the hour, Megan Rapinoe earned a free kick 30 yards from goal and Fischer was cautioned for the foul. Lloyd struck another wicked shot that once again troubled Lindahl as it bounced off her chest, but she recovered in the nick of time to avoid the U.S. threat.
The USA’s efforts finally paid off in the 67th minute when Wambach got a well-deserved breakthrough, tallying her first goal of the tournament. Cheney delivered a flat, driven corner kick that skimmed off Fischer and off the shoulder of Wambach, who powered the ball into the upper left corner. She now has 10 goals in her Women’s World Cup career and 119 overall.
The goal added a boost to an already energized U.S. attack, and Sweden gamely held their ground as the United States pushed for an equalizer. Kelley O’Hara replaced Rapinoe in the 73rd minute to earn her first opportunity in a World Cup and almost tied the game with four minutes remaining. Cheney pulled a nice spinning move deep in the left side of the area and picked out O’Hara on the back post but her angled volley drifted wide.
– U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report –
Match:U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Sweden
Date:July 6, 2011
Competition:2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup – Group C
Venue:Women’s World Cup Stadium; Wolfsburg, Germany
Kickoff:8:45 p.m. local / 2:45 ET
Weather:73 degrees, sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
SWE 2 0 2
SWE – Lisa Dahlkvist (penalty kick) 16thminute
SWE – Nilla Fischer 35
USA – Abby Wambach (Lauren Cheney) 67
USA:1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger, 19-Rachel Buehler, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 6-Amy LePeilbet (14-Stephanie Cox, 59); 15-Megan Rapinoe (5-Kelley O’Hara, 73), 7-Shannon Boxx,10-Carli Lloyd, 12-Lauren Cheney; 8-Amy Rodriguez (13-Alex Morgan, 46), 20-Abby Wambach
Subs not used: 2-Heather Mitts, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn,9-Heather O’Reilly,16-Lori Lindsey, 17-Tobin Heath, 18-Nicole Barnhart, 21-Jill Loyden
Head coach: Pia Sundhage
SWE:1-Hedvig Lindahl; 2-Charlotte Rohlin, 4-Annica Svensson, 6-Sara Thunebro, 7-Sara Larsson; 15-Therese Sjogran (11-Antonia Goransson, 65), 16-Linda Forsberg, 17-Lisa Dahlkvist (20-Marie Hammarstrom,77), 18-Nilla Fischer (capt.) (3-Linda Sembrant, 88); 8-Lotta Schelin, 14-Josefine Oqvist
Subs not used: 5-Caroline Seger, 9-Jessiva Landstrom, 10-Sofia Jakobsson, 12-Kristin Hammarstrom, 13-Lina Nilsson, 19-Madelaine Edlund, 21-Sofia Lundgren
Head coach:Thomas Dennerby
Statistical Summary: USA / SWE
Shots: 20 / 9
Shots on Goal: 6 / 5
Saves: 5 / 3
Corner Kicks: 3 / 6
Fouls: 7 / 16
Offside: 4 / 5
USA – Amy LePeilbet (caution) 14thminute
SWE – Nilla Fischer (caution) 60
Referee: Etsuko Fukano (JPN)
Assistant Referee 1: Saori Takahashi (JPN)
Assistant Referee 2: Zhang Lingling (CHN)
Fourth Official: Therese Neguel (CMR)
Bud Light Woman of the Match:Ali Krieger