The United States and Sweden clashed on the final day of group stage play and fans and pundits circled the game when the tournament began earlier this month. For both squads this match was about sending a message. The U.S. eyed first place in the group and revenge for its failures at the 2016 Olympics. Sweden wanted nothing more than to give Lady Yanks a reality check heading into the knockout round.
A hot start from the U.S. in the first and second halves nixed the idea of a Swedish victory as the Stars & Stripes claimed a big 2-0 victory over their rivals, gaining complete control of Group F.
The U.S. wasted no time firing the opening salvo as Lindsey Horan scored just 2 minutes and 40 seconds into the contest. Opta named it as the fastest goal in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Megan Rapinoe fired a low in-swinging corner from the left, midfielder Sam Mewis flicked it on to Horan who buried the opportunity from inside the six-yard box for the 1-0 lead.
Sweden attempted to level the game multiple times throughout the first half but couldn’t generate a serious threat to Alyssa Naeher and the United States goal. The U.S. dominated the first half with 66% possession and limited the Swedes to just two shots on target.
It took just three minutes out of the halftime break for the United States to double its lead. Forward Tobin Heath scored a magical goal, coming in from the right hand side and trying to beat her defender. Instead of going around her defender, she bent the ball around the near post and into the Swedish net to extend the lead to 2-0.
The goal didn’t come without some controversy as it was checked by the VAR. Carly Lloyd was offside when the ball was played towards her. The Swedish defender cleared the ball without Lloyd able to make a play. Following a lengthy review by the center official, the goal was awarded. FIFA would change the ruling to an own goal around the 73rd minute of the match as Heath’s shot clipped the defender on the way to goal.
Momentum bounced the way of Sweden late in the second half as they pressed heavily for a goal. A few scoring chances were generated and the Swedes created nervy moments for the U.S. backline. Despite making a few errors, the U.S. defense never was punished as they shut up shop to earn a 2-0 victory. The win gives the USWNT Group F and sets up a date with Spain on Monday in Reims, France.
You couldn’t ask for a better start for the USWNT. Lindsey Horan scored the fastest goal in the tournament and set the tone for the rest of the match. Tobin Heath’s heroics out of the halftime break never allowed Sweden to mount a comeback. The goals snuffed out any chance for the momentum to leave the Americans. The win increases confidence ahead of the clash with Spain on Monday.
No Ertz, No problem
Despite being injured, word circulated that Julie Ertz was good to go if this would have been a knockout game. The U.S. moved on with the solid win without their midfield linchpin. With the Americans moving into the knockout round, it’s safe to assume that we will see her at some point, but will she start?
The United States continues to break records and on Thursday they did more of the same. The Stars & Stripes finished the group stage with 18 goals, which is the most scored in any Women’s World Cup.
The U.S. face Spain on Monday afternoon in Reims, France. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m. and the game will be shown on FOX.