November 19, the U.S. Women’s National Team fought back from a 1-0 deficit to tie it up with Sweden at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, for a crowd of 18,482.
“We do not want a tie, that is not what we came here to do,” said striker Abby Wambach. “We came to win games. The Phoenix crowd was fantastic, they kept is in it in the end. We were told a few times to sit down on the bench by the official.”
Sofia Jakobsson scored for Sweden early in the 28th minute and left the USA women chasing the ball and battling with the woodwork. It was only in the 74th minute when head coach Pia Sundhage brought in Alex Morgan for Wambach and Stephanie Cox for Becky Sauerbrunn did Sweden look at risk. Five minutes later Tobin Heath collected a rebound shot by Morgan and slammed it into the net for the final 1-1 result. USWNT continued to attack, but were defeated by the goalposts and keeper Kristin Hammarstrom, who was forced to make nine saves to the USA’s three. Altogether the USWNT got off 19 shots, illustrating the continuing problem of getting shots on frame.
Sundhage relies on veterans, again
Sundhage started her veterans and brought in the usual subs, disappointing fans hoping to see new talent being groomed for the 2012 London Olympics. However, Sweden was motivated to win for bragging rights, likely playing into Sundhage’s strategy. Had Sweden defeated USA, they would have become the only other nation besides Norway to ever beat USWNT three times in a row, a feat Norway has accomplished twice. In January, Sweden defeat the USA 2-1 in the Four Nations Cup and then became the only nation to ever defeat the USA in World Cup group play.
So, Sundhage likely played it safe to retain the USA’s status, but fans are still wondering when the next wave of national team players will arrive and if it will be too late for the London Olympics. CONCACAF Olympic Women’s Qualifying, which runs from January 19-29 at newly renovated BC Place, is only two months away. In the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying, the USA tops Group B, which includes Mexico, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. Host Canada heads Group A, which features Costa Rica, Cuba and Haiti. [Click here for the schedule]
Alex Morgan makes the difference
It’s also unclear why Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath don’t get the start, but it’s very clear that Sundhage intends to use Morgan off the bench.
“It is perfect. That is the reason why she is so good,” said Sundhage. “She is coming off the bench she has a small role. She understands it and respects it, and the team does as well. It was a small role and she did perfectly well. It will not work for 90 minutes.”
“That is pretty much my role for every game,” said Morgan. “Pia has told me that. I try to make an impact every time. I know that their back line is tired. The main thing is hitting the line every time, knowing that the defense is tired and getting those shots off.
That is what Pia thinks suits me best and our team best. Hopefully, I will be a 90-minute player in the future. I’ve accepted that role that Pia has given me.”
Sundhage looking to coach Sweden
Sundhage seems to have tired of coaching the USWNT and recently told Swedish news agency TT that if asked, she would happily accept the position of Sweden head coach when current coach Thomas Dennerby’s contract expires after the 2012 London Olympics. Sundhage’s USWNT contract also expires at that time.
Sundhage said she’d like to return to her native Sweden because she has “been away from home for six years and that is too much Skype to keep up the contact with my friends.”
– U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report –
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Sweden
Date: Nov. 19, 2011
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: University of Phoenix Stadium; Glendale, Ariz.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. MT
Weather: clear, warm; 68 degrees
SWE – Sofia Jakobsson 28
USA – Tobin Heath (Alex Morgan) 81
USA: 18-Nicole Barnhart; 11-Ali Krieger (2-Heather Mitts, 46), 19-Rachel Buehler, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (14-Stephanie Cox, 74); 9-Heather O’Reilly, 10-Carli Lloyd, 7-Shannon Boxx, 8-Amy Rodriguez (17-Tobin Heath, 46), 12-Lauren Cheney; 20-Abby Wambach (13-Alex Morgan, 74)
Subs not used: 6-Amy LePeilbet, 16-Lori Lindsey, 21-Jill Loyden
Head coach: Pia Sundhage
SWE: 12-Kristin Hammarström; 2-Emma Berglund, 3-Linda Sembrant, 4-Annica Svensson, 6-Sara Thunebro; 17-Lisa Dahlkvist, 18-Nilla Fischer (capt.), 14-Johanna Almgren (22-Louise Fors, 61); 10-Sofia Jakobsson (20-Susanne Moberg, 87), 9-Jessica Landström (16-Madelaine Edlund, 75), 8-Lotta Schelin
Subs not used: 1-Hedvig Lindahl, 5-Marina Pettersson Engström, 7-Sara Larsson, 13-Emmelie Konradsson, 19-Jessica Samuelsson
Head coach: Thomas Dennerby
Statistical Summary: USA / SWE
Shots: 19 / 6
Shots on Goal: 11 / 4
Saves: 3 / 9
Corner Kicks: 10 / 4
Fouls: 6 / 7
Offside: 1 / 1
SWE – Sofia Jakobsson (caution) 33rd minute
Referee: Kari Seitz (USA)
AR1: Marlene Duffy (USA)
AR2: Veronica Perez (USA)
4th Official: Paul Nothman (USA)
Bud Light Woman of the Match:
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