U.S., Sweden battle for Group C supremacyJul 5, 2011 - 10:56 PM Wolfsburg, Germany (Sports Network) - The United States has never lost a match in group play at the Women's World Cup and if the trend continues Wednesday it fill finish atop Group C.
The U.S. plays Sweden at Volkswagen Arena on the final day of the group stage, and a tie would be enough to win its group for the sixth time in as many World Cup tournaments.
With both teams already secured of berths in the quarterfinals, the motivation is to avoid a quarterfinal showdown against the Group D winner - likely 2007 World Cup runner-up Brazil.
"Every game is important, it doesn't matter if we have to play against Brazil or not," said Sweden's Caroline Seger, who will serve a one-game suspension on Wednesday for accumulated yellow cards.
"It's the World Cup and if you are the best, you have to beat everyone."
The U.S. has defeated Sweden in all three of their previous World Cup matches, 3-2 in 1991, 3-1 in 2003 and 2-0 in 2007. But earlier this year, Sweden downed the U.S. at the Four Nations tournament.
"We've played them a couple of times and we know what to expect. We just need to focus on the next game," U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd said.
The U.S. also lost to Mexico and England in the nine months before the finals, as it struggled to qualify through CONCACAF for the first time. But after two wins, including a 3-0 win over Colombia on Saturday, it has regained top form.
"We're looking forward to Sweden now," U.S. midfielder Lori Lindsey said.
Heather O'Reilly, Megan Rapinoe and Lloyd scored against Colombia, as the U.S. has five goals from five different players after two games. Lauren Cheney and Rachel Buehler scored in a 2-0 win over North Korea in the opening match.
The U.S. will put its 15-0-2 all-time group record to the test against Sweden, which has won both its games 1-0, over Colombia and North Korea, but has been more impressive than those scores indicate.
The Swedes, runner-up in 2003, have 27 shots on goal in two matches, but have put just 11 on those on goal. Strikers Charlotta Schelin and Jessica Landstrom have played well, but their finishing touches have betrayed them.
That same fate has hindered U.S. star striker Abby Wambach, who had nine or 10 chances against Colombia without scoring. But Sweden's won both its games, and that remains the most important factor for coach Thomas Dennerby.
"Because we won, I'm satisfied. Before the next game, I'll tell them to keep on working hard," Dennerby said. "That's all we, and they, can do."
The U.S. entered the event ranked No. 1 in the world, and as a two-time winner it can make another statement that it's capable of winning a third title.
Sweden remains the most storied women's team without a World Cup title, but it could also put itself in position for a title run with a win against the U.S.
- UNITED STATES: 1
Jul 6 4:36 PM
- 68:00 MINUTES PLAYED United States Goal - Wambach 1 (Cheney), 67th minute
United States(1) 1, Sweden(5) 2 2nd - 68'Jul 6 4:10 PM
- 36:30 MINUTES PLAYED Sweden Goal - Fischer 1 (unassisted), 35th minute
United States(1) 0, Sweden(5) 2 1st - 36'Jul 6 3:22 PM
- 17:00 MINUTES PLAYED Sweden Goal - Dahlkvist 2 (PK), 16th minute
United States(1) 0, Sweden(5) 1 1st - 17'Jul 6 3:03 PM
- UNITED STATES: 0
1st Half - 0'
Jul 6 2:46 PM
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