- The US Girls’s Nationwide Staff completed the World Cup group stage with a scoreless draw in opposition to Portugal.
- The reigning champs are set to advance to the knockout spherical because the second-place finishers of their group.
- The US now should face a fearsome foe — Sweden — in a win-or-go-home match on Sunday.
The US Girls’s Nationwide Staff is thru to the knockout stage of the 2023 World Cup.
However simply barely.
The reigning champions — who’re in search of an unprecedented third-consecutive World Cup victory — stumbled to a scoreless draw in opposition to Portugal on Tuesday to narrowly advance on this summer time’s match Down Beneath. The Stars and Stripes completed second of their group behind the Netherlands, who used a 7-0 win in opposition to Vietnam Tuesday to take Group E’s high spot on aim differential.
Now, after coming within literal inches of elimination, the US will face a nightmarish matchup in its win-or-go-home recreation on Sunday.
Sweden — a workforce with a outstanding historical past of upsetting girls’s soccer’s longtime frontrunners — is awaiting Vlatko Andonovski’s aspect within the Spherical of 16. After FIFA’s third-ranked workforce earned a 2-0 victory in opposition to Argentina in its ultimate group-stage match Wednesday, Caroline Seger and firm emerged on the high of Group G to safe one more blockbuster matchup in opposition to the US.
The US and Sweden have a storied historical past of taking part in contentious, high-stakes video games on the world stage
The US has already confronted Sweden 9 instances in world championship tournaments, in keeping with US Soccer, with Sunday’s rematch marking the seventh World Cup assembly between the 2 giants of the game. And whereas Blågult — or The Blue and Yellow — have but to take down the Individuals in soccer’s most prestigious match, current performances point out that they are poised to interrupt by this time round.
In 2016, a Sweden squad outfitted with lots of the similar gamers competing in Australia and New Zealand shocked the world by outlasting the US in penalty kicks and booting the highest canines from the Rio Olympics. The loss marked the US’s earliest exit from a serious worldwide match and left the reigning three-time Olympic champions with out a medal for the primary time ever.
5 years later, on the postponed Tokyo Olympics, the Swedes as soon as once more dealt The Stars and Stripes a staggering blow. The 2 star-studded squads confronted off of their opening matches of the match as co-frontrunners of Group G, nevertheless it was Sweden — not the reigning World Cup champions — who emerged as a dominant power after 90 minutes.
The highest European aspect earned a decisive 3-0 victory over the US largely due to Stina Blackstenius — the exact same striker who helped spur the Individuals’ meltdown in Rio half a decade prior. The loss in Tokyo introduced the US’s 44-game unbeaten streak to a screeching halt and left the workforce with a comparatively disappointing bronze medal.
Nonetheless, the US boasts a substantial benefit over Sweden in World Cup play. The Stars and Stripes have confronted Sweden in every match since 2003 — with all conferences coming within the group stage — and have but to drop a single recreation. Apart from a scoreless draw on the 2015 World Cup, the US has come out on high in each World Cup match it is performed in opposition to Sweden.
Sunday’s match might flip the script on the US-Sweden rivalry
The Scandinavian nation is not only in search of a breakthrough in opposition to the US, but additionally in World Cup tournaments broadly.
Regardless of its standing as one in every of girls’s soccer’s powerhouse packages, Sweden has solely been in a single World Cup ultimate, in 2003. But when the reigning champs fall out of competition, Peter Gerhardsson’s workforce might very effectively hoist its first World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The US, in the meantime, dangers struggling the earliest World Cup exit in program historical past. The four-time champions have by no means completed beneath the highest three within the match, and have superior to the title recreation in all however three World Cup appearances.
Now, they’re going to must fend off a Swedish aspect that received all three of its group-stage matches and has conceded only a single aim within the match. And the US must do it with out Rose Lavelle, their star midfielder who earned two yellow playing cards within the group stage and now should sit out of the Spherical of 16.
Followers stateside can tune into FOX to observe the most recent leg of the US-Sweden rivalry unfold Sunday at 5 a.m. ET (7 p.m. native time).
Correction: August 2, 2023 — An earlier model of this story misstated the place Sweden girls’s nationwide soccer workforce positioned in earlier World Cup tournaments. Sweden appeared within the 2003 World Cup ultimate.