The USWNT headed into the final group stage match needing only a draw to win Group F, and proceeded to defeat Sweden 2-0. Both teams knew they were advancing to the knockouts before the match even began, but both also played hard to finish out group play.
A lot was said about how the U.S. looked good against lesser opponents, but the team needed to prove it was the quality side that everyone hoped it was. While the score line might not have been as big a win as other matches, the U.S. was still able to cruise past Sweden. The U.S. scored early in both halves with Lindsay Horan scoring in the first, and Tobin Heath forcing an own goal on Sweden in the second.
Jill Ellis returned to a more familiar starting XI for the match against Sweden. Alyssa Naeher started in goal once again, with a back line consisting of Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, and Kelley O’Hara. The midfield featured Rose Lavelle, Horan, and Sam Mewis, who replaced the injured Julie Ertz.. Up front was the potent attack of Megan Rapinoe, Heath, and the Orlando Pride’s Alex Morgan, serving again as captain.
Taking the field today for United States of America— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) June 20, 2019
Lineup Notes: https://t.co/jAPNUSd6XY#OneNationOneTeam pic.twitter.com/FWcVMZszC2
Though both sides came out aggressively, the U.S. wasted no time getting on the scoreboard with Horan scoring in the third minute off of a corner kick from Megan Rapinoe in the fastest goal scored this tournament
DREAM START FOR THE USA! @LindseyHoran pounces in the box and the @USWNT take the lead on the first corner of the game! #FIFAWWC https://t.co/LvYgUnXC6t— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 20, 2019
The pace of the game didn’t let up from there as the U.S. earned a corner in the 10th minute though it came to naught. Mewis took a long distance shot in the 15th minute, but it was easily saved. Sweden would do the same just a minute later, with an easy save from Naeher. Morgan took a few more poor chances as the U.S. continued its attack.
Sweden’s best chance came in the 21st minute when Kosovare Asllani took a shot from the right on a breakout play but Naeher was able to handle it easily. The U.S. immediately went back the other way, and Rapinoe was unable to chip the keeper from short distance. Tobin Heath nutmegged a Swedish defender in the 28th minute and earned a corner, but the U.S. was unable to convert on the set piece.
Just @TobinHeath doing Tobin Heath things https://t.co/tggkYxJVbo— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 20, 2019
The U.S. was relentless on the attack in the first half. It was on the front foot the entire time, and Sweden was unable to get much of an offense going. There were some defensive lapses for the U.S., but Sweden couldn’t convert, and the U.S. would go back on the attack. Naeher was finally tested just before the first half whistle, but she pushed the attempt wide and the U.S. went to half leading 1-0. In the half, the Yanks dominated possession with 66%, had 12 shots, with three on target.
To start the second half, Carlie Lloyd came on for Alex Morgan, who got knocked around a bit in the first half but didn’t seem to be injured. Given that the U.S. was already into the knockout rounds, there was no reason for Jill Ellis to keep Morgan out there.
Just like in the first half, it didn’t take the U.S. long with Tobin Heath neatly chipping a defender and the keeper in the 50th minute to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead. The goal was reviewed by VAR because Carli Lloyd was offside to start, but it was determined that the defense had time to recover and play the ball so the goal stood. The goal was later changed to an own goal on Jonna Andersson.
2-0 USA!@TobinHeath scores from a tight angle and the goal stands after a lengthy VAR review. #FIFAWWC https://t.co/DRpsL3v9wP— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 20, 2019
The pace of the match was noticeably less hectic, as the U.S. had a somewhat comfortable lead. Sweden did get a header over the U.S. goal a few minutes later, but it was too high to have any chance. Naeher had to provide an actual save in the 56th minute to keep Sweden off the scoreboard. Sweden had a few more chances in the 66th minute, but nothing on target. In the 69th minute Lloyd knocked Asllani down just outside the area. The ball was delivered beautifully, but fortunately no Swedish players were able to knock it into the net.
Mallory Pugh came on for Rapinoe in the 83rd minute for Lloyd and had a one-on-one against the keeper in the 90th minute, but hit it right to Hedvig Lindahl. Officials tacked on seven minutes of stoppage time and in the 96th minute, Naeher had to come way out to make a play on the ball, but it went out for a corner. Sweden was again unable to convert and the U.S. saw the game out.
The USWNT won Group F with a 3-0-0 record, out-shot Sweden 16-7 (4-2 on target), held 63% of the possession, was more accurate in passing (82%-67%), and won five corners to Sweden’s one.
The U.S. moves onto the Round of 16, where it will face Spain Monday June 24 at 12:00 p.m. ET. If the USWNT win, the team will face the winner between France and Brazil.