For the second straight match at the Algarve Cup, the U.S. Women’s National Team dominated in possession and scoring chances, but this time fell short in a 1-0 loss to Sweden that knocked the USA out of contention for a place in the championship game.
Coming off a 1-1 draw against Japan on March 3, the USA needed a victory against Sweden to stay on track for the berth to the championship match, which goes to the group winner. However, Sweden star Lotta Schelin’s header in the 24th minute proved to be the only goal.
Up next for the USA will be Denmark on March 10 in Albufeira, Portugal (10:40 a.m. ET), in the final Group B match for both teams. Denmark lost to Japan 1-0 today, so the USA will be hoping for a win against Denmark, coupled with a loss by Japan to Sweden, and will need to end with a superior goal differential over Japan, to earn a spot in the third-place match.
The USA out-shot Sweden 12-4 and had seven corner kicks to Sweden’s one, while Schelin’s goal was Sweden’s only true dangerous chance of the match. Still, Sweden was tremendous in its defensive organization and made it difficult for the U.S. WNT, which had the majority of possession to create quality chances, especially in the first half.
Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl made several world-class saves and also slapped away a few dangerous crosses to help her side to relieve the U.S. pressure.
The USA missed a golden chance to take an early lead after Amy Rodriguez sprinted into the penalty area on a semi-breakaway, slowed down and then burst toward goal again before she was cut down. Referee Yemi Martinez immediately pointed to the spot and Abby Wambach stepped up to take the penalty kick in the 15th minute.
In the first of several spectacular stops she would make on the day, Lindahl guessed correctly, diving explosively to her left to save Wambach’s low strike that was headed into the lower right corner.
Schelin’s goal came after Sofia Jakobsson blocked a clearance attempt from Ali Krieger in the left corner and managed to swing in a cross. Schelin was flashing across the goal and got her head on the ball to nod it past U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo into the lower right corner. The USA almost got behind Sweden’s compact back line several times in the first half, but was caught offside five times before the break.
The U.S. was the aggressor in the second half, pressuring Sweden into numerous giveaways and causing havoc inside the Sweden penalty box on numerous occasions.
The USA produced an attacking flurry between the 56th and 62nd minutes that included two occasions in which balls were bouncing inside 12 yards in front of the Sweden net, but the USA could not finish. The U.S. also had a series of three consecutive corner kicks. The first two were pushed away by Lindahl and Lloyd headed the third hard, but wide right of the goal.
Sermanni sent on both Mewis sisters – Samantha and Kristie – in the 68th minute, soon followed by forwards Christen Press in the 70th and Sarah Hagen in the 81st, and all contributed to numerous close calls in front of the Sweden net. It was the first cap for the 21-year-old Samantha Mewis and the 24-year-old Hagen.
In the 83rd minute, Kristie Mewis had a one-on-one chance when she ran under a flicked pass inside the penalty area, but Lindahl was quick off the line and saved the half-volley with her legs.
Just after that, a fine U.S. build-up sprung Carli Lloyd into the right side of the box. She hit a bullet cross on the ground that flashed through the middle, but a Hagen slide at an open net was just a step too late.
Lindahl saved the game for her team in the 88th minute after Hagen got in behind the defense on a breakaway, but once again the Sweden goalkeeper came up huge, coming off the line to make the stop with her chest.
Sweden’s only shot of the second half came in the 90th minute as Solo gobbled up a header from Nilla Fischer.
– The USA moved to 3-1-1 on the year.
– The U.S. WNT fell to 20-6-9 all-time against Sweden.
– When the Mewis sisters (Samantha and Kristie) entered the match in the 68th minute, it marked just the third time sisters have been on the field together for the full U.S. Women’s National Team and the first time since May 11, 1997, when twins Lorrie and Ronnie Fair played against England in Portland, Ore. The Fair twins also played in the previous match against England on May 9, 1997, in San Jose, Calif.
– Kristie (23) and Samantha (21) played together on the youth level at the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand and the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany.
– The match marked the first time that the U.S. Women did not win in consecutive games since Oct. 20 and Oct. 23 of 2012 when it tied Germany twice, in Bridgeview, Ill. and East Hartford, Conn.
– Kelley O’Hara came on for Meghan Klingenberg at left back following halftime, while Samantha Mewis replaced Morgan Brian and Kristie Mewis replaced Megan Rapinoe, who did some dangerous work on the flank in her 67 minutes.
– Christen Press came on for Amy Rodriguez and Sarah Hagen replaced Abby Wambach.
– Heather O’Reilly earned her 198th cap and is now just two games away from becoming the ninth WNT player to reach the 200-game mark.
– Christie Rampone earned her 290th career cap and is now just 10 away from 300, a mark achieved by only former teammate Kristine Lilly in the history of international soccer.
-U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report-
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Sweden
Date: March 7, 2014
Competition: 2014 Algarve Cup – Group B
Venue: Municipal Stadium; Albufeira, Portugal
Kickoff: 8:30 a.m. ET / 1:30 p.m. local
Weather: 63 degrees, sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
SWE 1 0 1
SWE – Lotta Schelin (Sofia Jakobsson) 24th minute
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 25-Meghan Klingenberg (5-Kelley O’Hara, 46); 9-Heather O’Reilly, 7-Morgan Brian (12-Samantha Mewis, 68), 10-Carli Lloyd, 15-Megan Rapinoe (19-Kristie Mewis, 68); 8-Amy Rodriguez (23-Christen Press, 70), 20-Abby Wambach (13-Sarah Hagen, 81)
Substitutions Not Used: 6-Whitney Engen, 14-Stephanie Cox, 16-Rachel Van Hollebeke, 17-Tobin Heath, 18-Alyssa Naeher, 21-Jill Loyden
Head coach: Tom Sermanni
SWE: 1-Hedvig Lindahl; 2-Charlotte Rohlin (3-Lisa Sembrant, 46), 5-Nilla Fischer, 18-Jessica Samuelsson, 23-Elin Rubensson; 15-Therese Sjögran (14-Hanna Folkesson, 46), 7-Lisa Dahlkvist, 17-Caroline Seger (capt.), 9-Kosovare Asllani (11-Antonia Göransson, 49), 10-Sofia Jakobsson (13-Emmelie Konradsson, 66); 8-Lotta Schelin (19-Emma Lundh, 77)
Substitutions Not Used: 4-Amanda Ilestedt, 12-Carola Soberg, 16-Lina Nilsson, 20-Emilia Appleqvist, 21-Stephanie Öhrström, 22-Olivia Schough
Head coach: Pia Sundhage
Stats Summary: USA / SWE
Shots: 12 / 4
Shots on Goal: 6 / 3
Saves: 2 / 6
Corner Kicks: 7 / 1
Fouls: 9 / 14
Offside: 6 / 5
Referee: Yemi Martinez (COL)
Assistant Referee 1: Janette Arcanjo (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Luzmila Gonzalez (COL)
Fourth Official: Olga Miranda Villareal (PAR)
Budweiser Woman of the Match: Carli Lloyd