USWNT / Women's World Cup

Match report: USA 2-0 Sweden

Photo Credit: Paul Rudderow

In the last match of group play, the USWNT beat Sweden, their toughest opponent of the tournament so far. Despite some evident defensive struggles, the USA advance to the next round of the tournament with Sweden coming in second in the group after this loss.

Both teams started off the match with some pace, looking for an early goal. Sweden made their plan pretty clear from the beginning of the match. Knowing that their back line could be easily outpaced by the USA’s attackers, goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl set a very high line. Her teammates in yellow followed, pressing and challenging the USA’s back line, relying on the counterattack. The red, white and blue kept the same plan, hitting long balls up top, using their speed and challenging for every ball.

USA quickly claimed the first goal of the match in the third minute. In the fastest goal scored in this World Cup so far, Megan Rapinoe took the first corner kick of the match a bit poorly, hitting a bouncing ball only about a yard from the end line that came into the box and was quickly deflected by Sam Mewis. Miraculously, the ball fell in front of Lindsey Horan who buried it in the back of the net after some poor defending by Sweden.

Having scored two goals in this tournament already, Sweden’s Kosovare Asllani had one of her team’s best chances in the 21st minute, easily slipping by Crystal Dunn and the rest of the USA’s back line to hit the run-on ball straight at Alyssa Naeher. After that, Sweden kept pressuring the US’ left side, beating Dunn a few times to get a few shots off in the first half, but not scoring a goal.

Carli Lloyd came on for Alex Morgan at half time, as Morgan was a little shaken up after being fouled in the first half. Already knowing that the US would advance to the next stage of the tournament, Jill Ellis took no chances and rested one of her best goal scorers.

Tobin Heath brought the US up by two with a near post goal that went over Lindahl. VAR had to review the goal since Carli Lloyd was offsides on the initial cross that was hit by a Swedish defender. The clearance attempt fell to Tobin Heath on the right side of the box who was open and able to put the US up 2-0. Despite Lloyd being in an offsides position and forcing the defender to clear the ball, VAR did not overturn the goal. It was later ruled an own goal by defender, Jonna Andersson.

The match got a bit chippier in the second half with some bad challenges and unnecessary fouls form both sides. USA’s back line looked the weakest it’s ever been in this tournament without Julie Ertz, who while healthy enough to play, prepared for the next round and sat this match out with a hip contusion. Sweden’s attacks grew stronger and more desperate as time kept ticking, exploiting both Dunn and O’Hara’s sides. The ladies in white didn’t have nearly as much of the possession through the middle of the field in the second half and Sweden took advantage by pressing harder.

But, the US still had their chances, maintained possession well enough and didn’t allow a goal. After a shocking seven additional minutes of extra time, the match ended with a 2-0 victory for the US. Winning Group F with 9 points, USA advances to the knockout round and will play Spain on Monday, June 24 at 11am.

Three points

Defensive problems. With Julie Ertz sitting out this match, it was apparent that the US has some problems in its back line. Dunn made a bad move leaving Asllani open to take a clear shot at the net. She continued to be beat on the left side throughout the entire match. Sweden does have the speed up top, but it’s clear that the US will have some defensive issues as they continue in the tournament and face stronger opponents.

A lot of goals. With 18 goals, the US have scored the most goals than any other team in group play, more than twice the amount of goals actually. USA has scored more goals so far in this match than in all of the 2015 World Cup tournament. This USWNT is definitely goal hungry (and quick to score) in their fourth time sweeping the group in USWNT history.

Slippery field. In the first 15 minutes there were a few slips caught on camera. First, O’Hara took a big fall in the middle of a run up the right sideline that she quickly recovered from. Then, one of Sweden’s midfielders slipped on the grass in the center of the field. With no rain in Le Havre, the quality of the field was brought into question. Luckily it just seemed to be an issue in the first half, but with both these teams advancing in the tournament, a slippery field like this could sideline someone.

Lineups

USA

Alyssa Naeher; Kelley O’Hara, Abby Dahlkemper, Becky Sauerbrunn, Crystal Dunn; Samantha Mewis, Rose Lavelle (Christen Press 63′), Lindsey Horan; Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan (c) (Carli Lloyd 46′), Megan Rapinoe (Mallory Pugh 83′).

Unused substitutes: Morgan Brian, Julie Ertz, Ali Kreiger, Tierna Davidson, Emily Sonnett, Ashlyn Harris, Allie Long, Adrianna Franch, Jessica McDonald

Sweden

Hedvig Lindahl; Nathalie Bjorn, Amanda Ilestedt, Linda Sembrant, Jonna, Andersson; Sofia Jakobsson, Julia Zigiotti, Kosovare Asllani (Lina Hurtig 79′), Caroline Seger (c) (Hanna Glas 64′), Olivia Schough (Fridolina Rolfo 57′); Stina Blackstenius

Unused substitutes: Nilla Fischer, Magdalena Eriksson, Madelen Janogy, Jennifer Falk, Julia Roddar, Anna Anvegard, Mimmi Larsson, Zecira Musovic, Elin Rubensson

Goals

USA: Lindsay Horan – 3′ (Sam Mewis)

USA: Jonna Andersson (OG) – 50′ (Tobin Heath)

Cards

USA: Kelley O’Hara – yellow – 59′

SWE: Sofia Jakobsson – yellow – 87′

5 Comments

  1. Bob Dabalina says:

    Lloyd was offside on the second goal, but VAR and the referee reviewed it and called it good.

    • Because the Swedish player touched the ball it did not matter where Lloyd was.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        This reminded me of a goal a couple of years ago where one of the Union defenders deflected the ball right to the Columbus player who would have been offsides had the Union not touched it. Given that was allowed to stand and that Carli had no influence on the play once the defender played it, it seemed like this one should count too.

  2. Bob Dabalina says:

    I guess I don’t understand the rule. The FIFA pdf on the subject states “Active involvement plus offside position is the offence.” Lloyd was running toward the net, right next to the defender, looking to play the ball. I don’t know how that could be construed as not “active involvement”. The defender doesn’t need to play the ball like she did if Lloyd isn’t there.

  3. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Particularly in the 2nd half, Dunn seemed to be cheating centrally to cover the CBs pace issues. At least once in the first half Sauerbrunn was being beaten for pace one v one but managed to disrupt the possession without fouling.
    .
    If I am game planning for Spain, I test that central defense for pace most thoroughly.

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