The United States Women’s National Team plays Sweden today in a key Group D matchup today in Winnipeg.
After one round of games the US leads the group with 3 points and a +2 goal differential. Things have started strong for the USWNT. Despite a mediocre showing against Australia, we still won in a commanding fashion. Another win today would all but clinch advancement to the knockout round. But don’t forget this is the “Group of Death” for a reason.
Sweden is ranked 5th in the world and coach by our old friend, and former coach, Pia Sundhage. Sweden led Nigeria 2-nil at the half before hemorrhaging three goals and settling for a draw. This proud team will want a better showing. And Sundahge just may be the person to exploit the US’s weaknesses.
A sloppy backline, a disconnect between forwards Leroux and Wambach, and the disharmonious midfield of Rapinoe, Holliday, Lloyd and Press is on tape for Pia to pick apart. Plus the US was saddled with two yellows by an exceptional vocal ref on Monday. Though the US only had 4 more fouls than a fairly physical Australian side, the Matildas didn’t receive a single booking. In this tournament, two yellows gets you suspended for a game, and infractions aren’t cleared until the semis. That means one more card for either Holliday or Rapinoe and we’ve lost a star for a match.
Star power is what wins the US games. The individual brilliance of Rapinoe and Hope Solo were the difference against Australia. But we’ll have to be a much better team to punch our ticket to the next round.
Bold Prediction: Jill Ellis will be outcoached by Sundhage and the Stars and Stripes play shaky again as they learn to play together as a team. Neither squad gets what they want: 2-2.