U.S. Women’s National Team earns 3-1 win on the road against Sweden [Video Highlights]
In a battle between two of the top-ranked teams in the world, the U.S. Women’s National Team took control early and then fought hard for a 3-1 victory against Sweden on Saturday in an important tune-up for the 2012 London Olympics.
U.S. forward Abby Wambach scored her 136th career international goal on a wonder-strike just eight minutes into the game, and her running mate up top Alex Morgan added her 15th goal of 2012 in the 22nd minute. Sweden pulled a goal back through star striker Lotta Schelin in the 35th minute, but second-half substitute Tobin Heath sealed the game with a rare header goal 11 minutes into the second half.
“It was a good experience for us, playing the third-best team in the world and scoring three goals,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. “I am very happy that Abby and Alex, our goal scorers, each scored a goal and that Tobin Heath came off the bench to score. Part of the game was pretty good, and we are taking another step closer to the Olympics. We are seeing the start of our run to the Olympics and we are happy with the 90 minutes we played today.”
The U.S. team will have one day of rest before facing Japan on Monday, June 18, in a match that will be broadcast tape-delayed on Universal Sports Network at 10 a.m. ET and will be live at 7 a.m. ET on UniversalSports.com.
After the match against Japan, the USA will play its Olympic Send-Off game two weeks later on June 30 against Canada at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. MT and the match will be broadcast live on NBC.
With left back Kelley O’Hara being rested with a slight leg injury, Sundhage gave Heather Mitts the start at right back and moved Amy LePeilbet to the left. She started Lauren Cheney at attacking midfielder in the middle with Shannon Boxx, while Megan Rapinoe and Heather O’Reilly got starts on the flanks.
Cheney created a chance just three minutes into the game when she dribbled inside from the right side and fired a left-footer that flew wide left of the net. Just three minutes later, Sweden had its first scoring opportunity when a counter-attack put Sofia Jakobsson open in the middle of the penalty area, but she skied her shot under pressure from the U.S. defense.
Wambach’s goal came off a punt from U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo. O’Reilly won the battle for the ball in the air, nodding it on to Wambach with her head. The USA’s big striker turned on a defender and the ball fell perfectly for a thunderous half-volley from at least 35 yards out that caught Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl out of her goal. The searing drive flew over Lindahl and stuck into the upper left corner of the net.
Schelin, widely regarded as one of the top forwards in the world, was her usual dangerous self, continually running at the U.S. back line with her long, loping strides. She had chances in the 18th and 19th minutes, the first of which was a tricky shot from distance that Solo grabbed with an athletic catch and hold. One minute later, the USA was dispossessed in the middle of the field, leading to another shot for Schelin, but this one was without verve and went right at Solo.
In the 22nd minute, Morgan made something out of a half-chance after Boxx won a tackle in the midfield, sending the ball past the Swedish back line and into the penalty area. Initially, it seemed that Sweden center back Stina Segerström had a bead on the ball, but Morgan raced past her, bodied her off the ball and slid to smack her right-footed shot into the lower left corner from 13 yards out as she fell to the turf. The goal was Morgan’s team-leading 15th of the year.
The USA had been able to keep the 5-foot-11 Schelin off the scoreboard in the previous five matches she has played against the Americans, but that streak came to an end in the 35th minute. A good period of Swedish pressure paid off as Schelin and Sweden captain Nilla Fischer played a give-and-go near the top of the penalty area on the left side. U.S. defender Rachel Buehler got a piece of Fischer’s return pass with her toe, but not enough to thwart the scoring chance. In fact, the spinning ball sat well for Schelin, who caught Solo charging out of her goal to lift a first-time shot with the outside of her right foot into the right corner.
The match was a fairly even affair over the 90 minutes as the USA out-shot the hosts by a 13-10 margin, but did slightly better in the finishing department. The USA could have added to the lead on either side of halftime as Rapinoe hit a driven cross on the ground from the left side that found the sliding Morgan at the back post, but she shot over the goal. Just seconds into the second half, Mitts sent a long, looping header off the crossbar.
Sweden battled for the equalizer early in the second half and came close to getting it in the 54th minute after a USA giveaway in the back led to nice sequence inside the penalty area. But Jakobsson’s shot screamed just outside the right post.
Two minutes later, the USA regained its two-goal cushion as Wambach, who is usually on the end of crosses for header goals, played provider, serving up a perfect looping far-post cross to Heath. She got inside her defender at the far post and calmly bounced her header home into the lower left corner from seven yards out.
In the 60th minute, halftime substitute Carli Lloyd tried to beat Lindahl from about 40 yards, but this time the Swedish ’keeper was able to get back quickly enough to palm down the shot.
In the 63rd minute, Schelin took advantage of mix-up between second-half substitute Becky Sauerbrunn, who came on for center back Christie Rampone, and Mitts, to race in on goal from the left side, but her shot from an angle was saved by the diving Solo. The U.S. goalkeeper had an excellent match in keeping her penalty box secure, coming out to confidently grab at least a half dozen crosses or services into the area.
Schelin was once again menacing in the 64th minute after Sweden picked off a square pass in the midfield, but while it led to another shot for the Swedish striker, she knocked this one high over the goal.
The USA could have added to its lead in the final minutes, but Wambach sent a header wide of the goal in the 88th minute and Lloyd saw her hard shot pushed away by Lindahl in stoppage time after Wambach had worked the ball free following a cross from a corner kick.
Additional Match Notes:
- Megan Rapinoe earned her 50th career cap.
- The USA upped its record to 12-1-1 on the year.
- Abby Wambach’s goal was the 136th of her international career in 180 games. She sits only behind Mia Hamm (158) on the USA all-time scoring list.
- Alex Morgan upped her career goal total to 25 in just 40 caps.
- Morgan becomes the 11th WNT player to reach 15 goals in a calendar year. This feat has been accomplished 18 times, with Wambach achieving the mark four times.
- Heather O’Reilly’s 36th career assist ties her for ninth all-time on the U.S. list with Michelle Akers.
- U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage used five substitutions, also giving time to Amy Rodriguez, who came on for Rapinoe in the 63rd minute and Sydney Leroux, who replaced Moran in the 74th minute.
– U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report –
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Sweden
Date: June 16, 2012
Competition: Volvo Winners Cup
Venue: Örjans Vall Stadium; Halmstad, Sweden
Kickoff: 4 p.m. local (10 a.m. ET)
Weather: 66 degrees, partly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 1 3
SWE 1 0 1
USA – Abby Wambach (Heather O’Reilly) 8th minute
USA – Alex Morgan (Shannon Boxx) 22
SWE – Lotta Schelin (Nilla Fischer) 35
USA – Tobin Heath (Abby Wambach) 56
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.) (4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 46), 19-Rachel Buehler, 6-Amy LePeilbet; 9-Heather O’Reilly (17-Tobin Heath, 46), 7-Shannon Boxx (10-Carli Lloyd, 46), 12-Lauren Cheney, 15-Megan Rapinoe (8-Amy Rodriguez, 63); 13-Alex Morgan (11-Sydney Leroux, 74), 20-Abby Wambach
Subs not used: 5-Kelley O’Hara, 14-Meghan Klingenberg, 16-Lori Lindsey, 18-Nicole Barnhart, 21-Jill Loyden, 22-Christen Press
Head coach: Pia Sundhage
SWE: 1-Hedvig Lindahl; 2-Emma Berglund, 3-Stina Segerström (15-Malin Levenstad, 66), 4-Annica Svensson, 5-Caroline Seger (9-Jessica Landstrom, 90+4), 6-Sara Thunebro, 8-Lotta Schelin (16-Madelaine Edlund, 72), 17-Lisa Dahlkvist, 18-Nilla Fischer (capt.) (14-Johanna Almgren, 72), 11-Antonia Göransson (20-Marie Hammarström, 53), 10-Sofia Jakobsson (22-Kosovare Asllani, 52)
Subs not used: 7-Linda Sembrant, 12-Kristin Hammarström, 13-Lina Nilsson, 19-Susanne Moberg, 21-Sofia Lundgren
Head coach: Thomas Denerby
Statistical Summary: USA / SWE
Shots: 13 / 10
Shots on Goal: 5 / 6
Saves: 5 / 2
Corner Kicks: 7 / 5
Fouls: 8 / 5
Offside: 7 / 3
Referee: Teodora Albon (ROU)
Assistant Referee: Petruta Claudia Iugulescu (ROU)
Assistant Referee: Carmen Morariu (ROU)
4th official: Linn Andersson (SWE)
Bud Light Woman of the Match: Abby Wambach