USA vs. Sweden preview: USWNT and Swedes battle to avoid France in potential quarterfinal

When the draw for this tournament was made back in December, most US fans took a look at the teams in Group F and knew that the final group game would be the toughest one. That’s not to disrespect teams like Thailand or Chile, but those two teams had a combined one Women’s World Cup appearances prior to this tournament kicking off. The final group opponent for the US is a different animal altogether. Their opponent is not only a team that has competed at a very high level for a number of years, but they’ve frequently proven to be a thorn in the side of the US. The opponent: Sweden.

After their 13-0 dismantling of Thailand to begin the tournament, many wondered how the US would look against Chile. Would they keep the same lineup, would the formation change, would they score another 13 goals, and so on. Jill Ellis made several changes (and was then wise enough with her subs that every player of the 23 with the exception of the two backup goalkeepers, has played at the tournament) but as has been noted before, the US has such an embarrassment of riches that it didn’t make too much of a difference. The US went up 1-0 after ten minutes from Carli Lloyd (who else?) and took a comfortable 3-0 lead into the half. And while they kept up the pressure in the second half, Christiane Endler in the Chile goal had a phenomenal performance, making six or seven world class saves to keep the score line close. But at the end of the day, the US was just too much and they got out of town with the three points and sit atop the group heading into the final game before the knockout rounds. And they get to face a familiar opponent in Sweden.

Sweden has had a good tournament so far, though not quite as good as the US. They have won both of their games but only beat Chile 2-0 and Thailand 5-1 (which is nothing to sneeze at but being in the same group as the US is going to draw the inevitable comparisons against the two common opponents). Their form coming into the tournament was kind of iffy as they won their final two warm-up friendlies but went winless in four of five prior to that. But the main focus is how they’ve done against the US at previous editions of the Women’s World Cup. Four years ago in Canada they battled to a 0-0 draw in the group stage. Eight years ago in Germany, they beat they US 2-1 in the final group stage game. Dating back a little farther, however, the US beat them 2-0 at the 2007 tournament in China, as well as a 3-1 win over them in 2003 at RFK Stadium in Washington DC (the US was host of the tournament due to the SARS outbreak in China). And going all the way back to the very first Women’s World Cup in 1991, the US beat the Swedes 3-2. And of course, nobody can forget the last time these two teams played at a major tournament in the 2016 Rio Olympics, which the Swedes won on penalties, despite a number of histrionics in goal from Hope Solo during the shootout.

Notes:

1. This is the 6th time in 8 Women’s World Cups that the US and Sweden have played in the group stage.

2. Both teams are assured of a spot in the knockout rounds but opponents are venues are still TBD. A win or a draw for the US sees them advance to play Spain in Reims but a loss sees them play the runners-up from Group E in Paris. The team that finishes second in Group F has a preferred pathway to the finals and avoids the prospect of playing France in a potential quarterfinal. But neither the United States nor Sweden will want to intentionally lose against their opponent on Thursday.

3. The Group F standings are as follows: USA (6 pts, +16 GD), Sweden (6 pts, +6 GD), Chile (0 pts, -5 GD), Thailand (0 pts, -17 GD)

When and where to find the game on US TV and streaming

Thursday, June 20, 2019
Stade Ocean
Le Havre, France
3pm ET
Live on FOX, Telemundo, fuboTV, Hulu Live and PlayStation Vue (free trial)

All-Time Series

USA leads 21-6-11

Last Meeting

June 8, 2017
Gamla Ullevi Stadium
Gothenburg, Sweden
Sweden 0-1 USA

Current FIFA Ranking

USA: 1
Sweden: 9

Next Game

Monday, June 24, 2019
Women’s World Cup
Opponent TBD
Venue TBD

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