Sept. 14, 2007
Wambach's brace lifts U.S. over Sweden, 2-0
Chengdu, China -- Striker Abby Wambach turned into a one-woman wrecking crew Friday, connecting twice to lead the United States to a vital 2-0 victory over Sweden in the Women's World Cup.
|Abby Wambach scored twice for the U.S.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The win put the U.S. (1-0-1, four points) in excellent position to advance to the quarterfinals with Nigeria, considered the weakest team of Group B, dubbed the Group of Death, looming on Tuesday.
It also put the Swede's chances of moving on -- they have only one point on the strength of a 0-1-1 record -- in jeopardy because the Europeans must face North Korea. The Koreans surprised the U.S. in a 2-2 tie draw Tuesday and took on the Nigerians in a later match Friday.
The Americans kept their first-round record in WWC perfect at 12-0-2.
After another slow start to a match, the U.S. finally gathered itself and its nerves to walk into halftime with a 1-0 advantage on Wambach's 34th-minute penalty kick.
Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl misjudged the ball, which bounced high over her. U.S. midfielder Lori Chalupny, while going for the ball, was taken down by defender Stina Segerstrom Stina in the penalty area and referee Maria Luisa Villa Gutierrez awarded a penalty.
Using her right foot, Wambach placed a low shot to the lower left corner as Lindahl dove the other way.
Wambach connected off a spectacular individual effort in the 58th minute. She trapped a long pass with his chest and fired a half-volley from 12 yards with her left foot into the upper left corner for a 2-0 American advantage.
The Americans weathered another storm by the opposition, surrendering four corner kicks in the opening four minutes. But keeper Hope Solo was ble to stopp everything sent her way.
Solo was steady for most of the match. Perhaps her most important save came in the 79th minute when she managed to tip Victoria Svensson's right-wing cross over the net.
As the first half progressed, the U.S., slowly but surely, found its legs and confidence and started to create more chances.
Both teams came out and forced the action offensively, although there were not many dangerous scoring opportunities.
On the other end of the field, Sweden's two most important attacking players -- Hanna Ljungberg and Svensson -- hardly saw the ball in dangerous places and were relatively silent. Ljungberg’s most memorable opportunity came in the 80th minute as her shot off a Svensson corner kick went wide right.
After Tuesday's 2-2 draw with North Korea, U.S. coach Greg Ryan made several adjustments. He started Leslie Osborne at holding midfielder in favor of Shannon Boxx and midfielder Lindsay Tarpley for forward Heather O'Reilly. Stephanie Lopez was moved back to outside fullback.
At halftime, Boxx replaced Carli Lloyd, giving the U.S. two defensive midfielders.