A win or a draw against Sweden on Wednesday would have seen the US national team win Group C at the Women’s World Cup. But it wasn't to be, as first-half goals by Lisa Dahlkvist and captain Nilla Fischer proved insurmountable, leading Sweden to a 2-1 victory over the Americans. It marks the first time the US have lost in a World Cup group-stage game.
The US came out of the gates strong, pressing Sweden and maintaining possession in the offensive half. The pace of the Swedes quickly exposed the high US defensive line, however, as an errant backwards header from American midfielder Carli Lloyd inadvertently played in Lotta Schelin. The defense could only watch as the striker streaked towards goal, but US ‘keeper Hope Solo was equal to the challenge and stoned the Swede to keep the score level.
The score line didn't last long, however, as Schelin once again found her way behind the defense. This time she was taken down in the box on a clumsy challenge by US defender Amy LePeilbet, winning a penalty for the Swedes. Lisa Dahlkvist stepped up for Sweden and converted just past Solo’s fingertips.
Sweden narrowly escaped an American equalizer when striker Amy Rodriguez shook off her defender and chipped ‘keeper Hedvig Lindahl, but Rodriguez's shot hit the bar and bounced over. The US paid just minutes later, as Fischer fired a free kick from just outside the 18 that bounced off LePeilbet and left Solo helpless to prevent the goal.
The US attack looked more threatening in the second half, with shots from Lloyd and Shannon Boxx testing Lindahl from range. The breakthrough came in the 67th minute when Abby Wambach met a Lauren Cheney corner kick in the box and shouldered several defenders — and the ball — to pull one back for the Americans. And though the US continued to create chances, Sweden held on to win the game and Group C.
Despite the loss, the US still advanced to the quarterfinals, but the second-place finish in the group pits the Americans against favorites Brazil, while the Swedes go on to play Australia. The Brazilians took Group D handily, winning all three of their games and outscoring the opposition 7-0.
The game will be shown Sunday 10 on ESPN at 11 am ET.