The United States and Sweden locked horns tonight in a defensive battle that ended in a 0-0 draw in Winnipeg.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis was facing her former boss Pia Sundhage, who made headlines this week with slightly critical remarks about some of her former U.S. charges.
Included was Sundhage’s statement that were she still in charge of the American team Abby Wambach, who played the full 90 versus Australia in the first U.S. match, would be used as a supersub.
Ellis, it seems was thinking along with her former boss, and Wambach spent the opening 67 minutes on the bench before replacing Christen Press.
Wambach was hardly “super,” but then it wasn’t a game of offensive highlights. Ellis replaced 35 year old Wambach in the starting lineup with the team’s youngest player, Morgan Brian.
Brian played as a right sided midfielder with Press taking Wambach’s spot alongside Sydney Leroux up top. Before the night was out Ellis would exhaust her rich stock of forwards, introducing Wambach, Amy Rodriguez and Alex Morgan.
Still, despite the undoubted pedigrees and big reputations of all five United States forwards, no goals.
Each team had a legitimate penalty shout denied by the officials in the first half, in fact the U.S. may have had two.
In the 13th minute Press was wrapped up in a not so warm embrace by her marker, but there was no call. Then Leroux caught a break when her hand ball was somehow missed or overlooked in the 22nd minute. The Americans may had a hand ball call in their favor later in the half, although that was less clear cut.
0-0 at the break was down to well organized defenses on both sides. But there were chances. Therese Sjogran fired high over Hope Solo’s net on a long range effort and unlike Nigeria, the U.S. were capable of defending corner kicks.
Julie Johnston and Becky Sauerbrunn were rock solid at the heart of the U.S. defense, but the U.S. midfield were not providing enough service to all those star strikers.
Carli Lloyd made a rare foray forward in the 72nd minute, but her header was tipped over the bar by Swedish keeper Hedvig Lindahl. Lindvahl stood up well late as the U.S. piled the pressure on the tiring Swede’s, but the closest that either team came to winning the match came in the 77th minute.
From a Swedish corner kick Caroline Seger beat Solo cleanly, but fullback Meghan Klingenberg leapt and stretched her 5’2’’ frame just enough to head Seger’s shot safely off of the underside of the crossbar.
A victory would have put the U.S. into the knockout round, instead Group D will come down to June 16th when the U.S. play Nigeria in Vancouver, and Sweden head to Edmonton to take on Australia.
Australia topped Nigeria earlier today and sit second in the group with 3 points, one point back of the U.S., Sweden are third with 2 and Nigeria have just a single point.
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
SWE 0 0 0
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 19-Julie Johnston, 22-Meghan Klingenberg; 14-Morgan Brian (8-Amy Rodriguez, 58), 12-Lauren Holiday, 10-Carli Lloyd (capt.), 15-Megan Rapinoe; 23-Christen Press (20-Abby Wambach, 68), 2-Sydney Leroux (13-Alex Morgan, 78)
Subs Not Used: 3-Christie Rampone, 5-Kelley O’Hara, 6-Whitney Engen, 7-Shannon Boxx, 9-Heather O’Reilly, 16-Lori Chalupny, 17-Tobin Heath, 18-Ashlyn Harris, 21-Alyssa Naeher
Head coach: Jill Ellis
SWE : 1-Hedvig Lindahl; 23-Elin Rubensson, 14-Amanda Ilestedt, 5-Nilla Fischer, 7-Lisa Dahlkvist; 17-Caroline Seger, 18-Jessica Samuelsson, 10-Sofia Jakobsson, 16-Lina Nilsson (3-Linda Sembrant, 70); 15-Therese Sjogran (20-Emilia Appelqvist, 75), 8-Lotta Schelin (capt.)
Subs not used: 2-Charlotte Rholin, 4-Emma Berglund, 6-Sara Thunebro, 9-Kosovare Asllani, 11-Jenny Hjohlman, 12-Hilda Carlen, 13-Malin Diaz Pettersson, 19-Emma Lund, 21-Carola Soberg, 22-Olivia Schough
Head coach: Pia Sundhage
Stats Summary: USA / SWE
Shots: 12 / 9
Shots on Goal: 2 / 1
Saves: 0 / 2
Corner Kicks: 9 / 8
Fouls: 6 / 11
Offside: 2 / 1