USA vs Sweden preview: USWNT face former head coach

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There are several subplots to tonight’s game between the U.S. and Sweden, but putting all the history and drama aside, these are two teams that are in need of a timely and critical victory.

Sweden was shocked when Nigeria came back to end Group D’s opening game in a 3-3 draw. Sweden’s defense was outpaced and outmuscled by the Super Falcons on all three goals. Head Coach Pia Sundhage has critiqued her own team for a lack of creativity on offense and that held true against Nigeria. The team’s first two goals came off of corners, where they had a distinct height advantage. Something they will not enjoy against the United States.

While the USA sit atop of the Group of Death as the only team with three points, they were highly criticized for several aspects of their game. Starting with the ineffective play of Abby Wambach, the criticism continued all the way back to the inexperience that young Julie Johnston showed. A comprehensive win over Sweden and Sundhage will not only assure a first place finish in their group, but silence several doubts that still linger around the team.

If the U.S. watched the Sweden/Nigeria matchup, they were handed a probable game plan to attack the back line of the Swedes. A dangerous combination of speed, muscle and well-timed passes from the midfield can exploit the Swedish defense. If Ellis is to going to try and use this strategy, playing Wambach may not be the best choice. It would be ideal to start Sydney Leroux and, if ready, Alex Morgan.

Megan Rapinoe was the difference maker on offense in the team’s first game, but do not expect Sweden to give her that much room and time on the ball in this time. The U.S. will need to find a way to open the other side of the field and effectively use Carli Lloyd and Lauren Holiday to transition the ball from side to side.

These two sides know each other very well, especially in World Cup situations. They have squared off on 4 different occasions in the World Cup, with an overall record of 3-1-0 to the U.S. The last matchup went to Sweden when they beat the U.S. 2-1 in the final group stage game of the 2011 World Cup.

Sweden knows has to defend the U.S. better then almost anyone. In the past, they have used their physical presence to throw the Americans off the ball and disrupt their rhythm. If they plan on using that tactic again then Nilla Fischer will be at the heart of it.

The question will be, “can Sweden create opportunities for themselves?”  The team only registered 7 shots on goal while giving up 14 to Nigeria. Even for experienced strikers like Kosovare Asllani and Lotta Schelin, this is not enough. They will need to maintain pressure in the final third and fire several shots on net if they plan on beating Hope Solo.

Before, during or after today’s match, join the conversation in the comments section below with fellow soccer fans from around the world.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Eplnfl June 12, 2015
    • Christopher Harris June 12, 2015
    • Blues Guy June 12, 2015

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