After a late win over Australia in their first match, the USWNT is back on the field tonight for their second World Cup group match — against Pia Sundhage's Sweden. That first win was a lot narrower and more difficult than we hoped it would be, and hopefully it will be a wake-up call for the US going into what will likely be their most difficult group match — and one that could decide the group winner.
Sweden are coming off of their own surprisingly meek performance against Nigeria. After taking an early two-goal lead they surrendered it twice to finish with a 3-3 draw that means they'll almost certainly need to beat the US to win the group. A loss would make it impossible and would make a group stage elimination for the #5 ranked team in the world a real possibility.
Sounder at Heart isn't hosting a viewing party for this one (though the viewing party for game one at Capitol Cider was great, thanks to all those who attended). The Reign will be hosting a viewing party at Sport, near their home at Seattle Center. Otherwise join us here in the game thread.
What to Watch
- How the American Arsenal is Deployed - the US team is ridiculously talented in the attack. Alex Morgan might be the best forward in the world, Megan Rapinoe is by far the best team's wide player and server of the ball, Sydney Leroux brings her speed, Abby Wambach brings experience and size, Christen Press is in fantastic form, and Amy Rodriguez is an apparent afterthought who'd be the #1 on nearly every other team in the tournament. One of Jill Ellis' most important tests is putting her attackers in the right environments to be successful. In the last match she succumbed to the temptation to jam Press into the lineup as a central midfielder with mixed results. And now Morgan is healthy, creating even more permutations.
- Bulletin Board Material - The US players play best with chips on their shoulder, and this week ex-USWNT, now-Sweden coach Pia Sundhage provided a whole bag of chips in the form of an interview with the New York Times in which she offered a lot of criticism for her former US players. Sundhage isn't enough of a mind game maestro to pull that kind of move off. I expect she just made things a lot harder for Sweden tonight.
- Lotta Schelin - This could be the last World Cup for the 31-year-old Schelin, the Sweden team's greatest player of all time. But the towering forward is fighting chronic pain from a knee injury and was largely anonymous against Nigeria. If she can't get back to being a world class striker against the US, Sweden's hopes are likely to fade quickly.
How to Watch
Match date/time: Friday, 5:00 p.m. PT
Venue: Investors Group Field, Winnipeg, Canada
TV: Fox, NBC Universo (Spanish)
Online: FOX Sports Go and FOX Soccer 2 Go(a paid service that requires no TV subscription); NBC Deportes En Vivo(Spanish)