June 12, 2015
INABILITY TO CONNECT
U.S. gets a 0-0 draw with Sweden
WINNIPEG, Manitoba--The United States kept its lead atop Group D at the Women's World Cup, but failed in a chance to advance to the knockout round, playing Sweden to a tough 0-0 draw at Winnipeg Stadium Friday night.
The defensive battle featured few chances for either side, with the U.S. taking only two shots on goal, while Sweden's best attempt came in the 73rd minute, when a shot by Caroline Seger was cleared off the line by U.S. defender Meghan Klingenberg.
The United States attack went through Megan Rapinoe, who was busy all game on the wings, serving ball after ball into the area, either from the run of play or on set pieces, but the Americans could never find the finishing touch.
The inability to connect began early in the game. In the fourth minute, Rapinoe served in a free kick from the left. Sydney Leroux and Julie Johnson collided going for the ball and nothing came of it.
Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl did well to stifle the U.S. attack as well. In the 18th minute, she charged out to clear away a long free kick by Lauren Holiday and in the 34th minute, she scooped up a shot by Ali Krieger.
Sweden's best chance of the first half came in the 25th minute, when Lisa Dahlkvist tried to test Hope Solo from distance, but her shot sailed over the bar.
Krieger had a beautiful chance to set up Carli Lloyd in the 36th minute, playing a ball from out wide toward the far post, but the pass had too much on it for the forward to connect. Four minutes later, Rapinoe was off target with a 30-yard free kick, sending it sailing high over the Swedish goal.
Lindahl made a big save in the opening minutes of the second half to keep the game scoreless. Rapinoe made a run into the box and laid the ball off for Lloyd at the left side of the area, but her shot was tipped over the bar by the Swedish 'keeper.
Sweden tested and nearly broke the U.S. back line in the 63rd minute, when Lotta Schelin and Therese Sjogran broke in with only Johnson and Solo to beat, but Becky Sauerbrunn came charging back to break up the play.
The inability to connect with Rapinoe's crosses continued to haunt the U.S. in the second half. In the 69th minute, the U.S. midfielder played a ball in from the left edge of the area. Lloyd and Sweden's Jessica Samuelsson collided going for the ball, which went out for a corner. The collision left Lloyd on the ground and a bit dazed, while Samuelsson left the field and returned a few minutes later with her head bandaged.
On the ensuing corner by Rapinoe, Leroux sent a shot over the goal.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis used all three of her substitutions to try and inject the finishing touch into the Americans' offense. In the 59th minute, Alex Rodriguez came in for Morgan Brian. In the 67th, Abby Wambach came in for Christen Press and in the 78th minute, Alex Morgan came on for Leroux.
Of the three, Wambach came closest to putting away the winner, connecting on a cross from Rapinoe in the 72nd minute, only to have it deflected over the goal.
The last gasp for the U.S. came three minutes in stoppage time, on a corner kick Rapinoe put on goal, but Lindahl punched away.
The tie leaves the U.S. atop the group with four points. Australia has three, Sweden two, and Nigeria one. The U.S. faces Nigeria next Tuesday at 8 pm ET in Vancouver, while Sweden and Australia square off in Edmonton at the same time.