Wednesday Lunch: USA vs. Sweden Women’s World Cup Recap

Posted: July 6, 2011 in professional sports, soccer, sports, uswnt, women's world cup
Tags: , , , , ,

 

By Matt Ream

 

The US women lost to Sweden, 2-1, today in the final game of the group stage in the Women’s World Cup.

 

An early defensive mistake allowed Lotta Schelin in behind the American back line. Amy LePeilbet, who struggled at times in the first two group games, bundled Schelin over in the penalty area. Lisa Dahlkvist converted the ensuing penalty kick to give Sweden the one goal advantage. Hope Solo almost got a hand to it, but it was too well placed. LePeilbet was fortunate not to receive a red card as she looked to be the last defender when she was whistled for the foul.

 

Twenty minutes later, another defensive blunder proved to be the deciding factor in the match. Rachel Buehler’s poor touch allowed Therese Sjogran to regain possession of the ball and dribble into space between the scrambling US defense. Buehler did well to recover, but could only foul Sjogran. Sweden’s free kick took an unfortunate deflection off LePeilbet’s thigh and wrong footed Solo, who looked to have the initial shot covered.

 

Thirty-six minutes in and the US were already down two goals despite looking like the better team by the numbers in terms of shots and possession. However, as has been the story thus far in the World Cup, too many US shots were off target or right at the goalkeeper.

 

In the second half, the same problems continued for the Americans. Sweden seemed content to sit back and protect their two-goal lead, while only allowing long range shots. The introduction of WWC playoff hero Alex Morgan early on in the second half seemed to spark the US attack; Morgan soon earned a corner for the US, which was a positive sign of things to come.

 

It was a Morgan earned corner kick in the 66th minute that allowed the US to get on the scoresheet. Morgan ran onto a long ball by WWC veteran Christie Rampone and put just enough pressure on the Swedish defender to force the ball out for the set play. Lauren Cheney, who has assumed corner kick duty during the tournament, sent a driven ball in to the back post. Abby Wambach rose above her defender to deflect the ball off her shoulder and into the back of the net for her first goal of the Cup and only second of the year.

 

Although the remainder of the game was controlled mostly by the US, Sweden got forward to hold the ball and run out the clock. The fairytale ending wasn’t to be as the US wasted a few more chances and ran out of time. With the game ending in a win for Sweden, the US look to meet Brazil in the quarterfinals while Sweden play Australia. This should be a tough game for the US, as Brazil looks to be a dynamic and attacking side which could easily dismantle the seemingly fragile American back line.

 

A few thoughts on the game:

 

  • This game was the women’s first loss in a World Cup group stage match. Several weeks ago, the men’s side lost their first ever Gold Cup group stage match. Coincidence? The difference is that the women posted convincing wins in their first two games, while the men won in unspectacular fashion.
  • This marks the third consecutive match that the US women have outshot their opponents by a significant margin. The Americans had 20 shots to Sweden’s nine, but had only one more shot on goal. This marks a steady decline in the accuracy of shooting. Against North Korea, the USWNT had 63% shots on target. This figure dropped to 33% against Columbia, and only 30% against Sweden.
  • Amy LePeilbet continued to struggle in her role as an outside defender. In the post-game analysis, Tony DiCicco, former USWNT coach, mentioned that she primarily plays as a centerback and has been converted to a left back in the past five national team games.
  • Kelley O’Hara entered the game in the 72nd minute for Megan Rapinoe. But, was this a good substitution by coach, Pia Sundhage? O’Hara had five caps prior to this game, whereas Sundhage had more experienced Tobin Heath (28 caps) available. Heath struggled a little against Colombia in her brief appearance, but she has talent and might have needed the confidence going into the knockout rounds.
  • Wambach finally scored! It wasn’t pretty, but a goal is a goal. Hopefully her confidence will be higher going into the must win game against Brazil.
  • Hope Solo can’t be too happy about either of those goals. She guessed correctly on the penalty, stretching out far enough to brush the ball with her fingertips. She was also positioned correctly on the deflected free kick, only to see it loop toward the complete opposite side of the goal. Although her shutout streak is now over, she can take solace in having made some good early plays against Sweden and that neither of the goals were her fault.
  • And finally, to wrap everything up: Lauren Cheney is a beast! Since getting the surprise start against North Korea, she has been all over the place – creating, shooting, and combining with teammates. Here’s hoping she can finally put one of those shots on goal against Brazil!

 

The United States plays Brazil in the quarterfinals on Sunday, July 10th at 8AM Pacific Standard Time. The game can be seen on ESPN, ESPN3.com, or Galavision.

 

 

Matt Ream is the older, wiser, and better looking brother of TheSackLunch co-founder Evan Ream. He occasionally contributes to TSL when he isn’t too busy getting his MA in Kinesiology at CSU Long Beach, coaching youth soccer, or reading. He can be reached at mtream@gmail.com or @flyingoose.

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Comments
  1. thegeeman says:

    Brasil will be a tough out for the USA. Brasil has Marta. She is good. The USA may get knocked out in the quarter finals again.

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