November 19, 2011
ENDING WITH A DRAW
U.S. women close out year 1-1 against Sweden
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Tobin Heath scored a second half goal to lift he United States to a 1-1 tie with Sweden in front of a record crowd of 18,482 at University of Phoenix Stadium Saturday night. It was the largest crowd to ever see the U.S. women in Arizona.
The U.S. lost its two previous encounters to Sweden this year.
Sweden capitalized on one of their few opportunities in the first half when Sofia Jakobbson opened the scoring in the 28th minute. The forward picked up the ball in the right side of the U.S. 18-yard box before sidestepping Rachel Buehler and curling a beautiful strike around Christie Rampone and passed the outstretched Nicole Barnhart.
In the 78th minute Lauren Cheney set up Alex Morgan inside the area, her shot from 14 yards beat the Sweden goalkeeper but not the right upright. The U.S. hit both posts and the crossbar during the game.
Three minutes later the USA's sustained pressure throughout the game paid off. Heather O'Reilly played Morgan over the top and the forward turned to free up space in the penalty area. Her left-footed shot was saved by Kristin Hammarström, but Heath was lurking to follow up the rebound with a first-time shot from close range in the 81st minute.
"I am very happy that we were patient with the system," said U.S. coach Pia Sundhage, whose team lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. "The most important thing is that we are comfortable with the system and that we did we create chances. It was a great warm-up game for qualification. It was very important that we scored that goal, it was a fantastic goal and we deserved it."
The game was the last international match of the year for the U.S. team. The team will regroup in early December for a training camp at The Home Depot Center as Sundhage continues to evaluate players for the roster that will compete in CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Jan. 19-29 in Vancouver, B.C.. The top two finishers in that tournament will earn a berth to the London 2012 Olympics next summer.