USWNT still atop of Group D after draw with Sweden
The U.S. Women’s National Team entered Friday nights game with Sweden knowing that any result other than a loss, would leave them atop of Group D at nights end. They battled Sweden back and forth and ultimately settled for the draw. The result leaves the U.S. women on top of Group D with four points and one game left in group play.
The game was both physical and sluggish throughout providing minimal scoring chances for either side. The U.S. held Sweden to nine shots, none of which were on goal. A fairly easy night for Hope Solo in defense. Neither side was able to break free on runs to setup legitimate scoring opportunities in transition. This game had that set-piece winner kind of feel, but after a few close calls, we ended tied at nil.
Former USWNT coach Pia Sundhage gave the U.S. women plenty of bulletin board material prior to the game with slight criticisms. Sundhage called out Carli Lloyd and also called U.S. goalie Hope Solo a piece of work saying coaching Solo was challenging. When asked to clarify her statements further, Sundhage said,
“I could bring up examples in the Swedish team as well. Some players are very challenging and those players, they create gold. Those players who always do exactly what I say, then that’s not (always) good. It’s good sometimes.”
If there was a team setup to grind the U.S. Women’s momentum to a halt, it was the worlds fifth ranked Swedes led by former U.S. coach Sundhage. After leading the USWNT to a second place finish in the 2011 World Cup, Sundhage knew the strengths and weaknesses of the U.S. squad better than anyone.
The games biggest scoring threat came from Sweden’s Caroline Segar in the 78th minute off a corner kick header. The ball appeared to be headed away by Meghan Klingenberg and bounced off the top of the post. After the USA gathered their collective breaths, the USWNT controlled the remaining ten minutes of the match and had a couple of late corner kick opportunities themselves that did not materialize. The U.S. would finish with 12 shots, two of them being on goal. The USWNT also had ten corner kick opportunities to the Swedes eight.
So the U.S. will enter Tuesdays game with Nigeria needing only a tie to move on to the round of 16. The game plan going into Tuesday for U.S. Women’s coach Jill Ellis should be pretty simple, do not lose to Nigeria by two goals. That is the only scenario that could have the USWNT coming home short of the round of 16.
So far, so good for the USWNT in the group of death. They beat the tenth ranked Australian team and held the fifth ranked Swedes to a nil-nil tie. Surviving this group should be a good test for the U.S. and prepare them for the round of 16. But as the U.S. women know, you are always one minute and one goal away from losing it all. So they will look to hang on one more time Tuesday against Nigeria and move one step closer to World Cup redemption.
How far do you think the U.S. Women’s National Team will go in the 2015 World Cup in Canada? Leave us your comments below.
Brandon covers soccer for MyFantasySportsTalk.com, you can follow him on Twitter @New_Breid
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You can follow Brandon on Twitter @New_Breid