US falls to Sweden
Needing only a tie to avoid Brazil in the quarterfinals, the U.S. fell 2-1 to Sweden on Wednesday night, the team’s fourth loss since November and first ever in group play at the women’s World Cup soccer.
“After, what I said to the team is, my glass is half-full,” U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said. “Even though we lost, we can come out as a winner if we take a different path.
“We really want to play in the final. But we have to play some great games, play some great teams. I really want us to embrace this process. I think the team will get stronger. That’s the plan.
“It’s a little bit different for me to talk about the final,” she added. “That’s what it takes when we take a different road.”
Lisa Dahlkvist converted a penalty, and Nilla Fischer scored on a free kick for Sweden, which won Group C and will play Australia on Sunday.
Abby Wambach got the U.S. back in the game in the 67th minute with her first goal of the tournament. But as they have all year, the Americans squandered too many other chances and now must play Brazil on Sunday in Dresden.
Brazil was the runner-up to the Americans at the last two Olympics and to Germany at the 2007 World Cup, and is led by Marta, the five-time FIFA Player of the Year.
The U.S. is a two-time World Cup champion, two-time defending Olympic gold medalist and the No. 1-ranked team. But it’s had a rough few months since being stunned by Mexico in the semifinals of regional World Cup qualifying, needing to beat Italy in a playoff just to get to Germany. The Americans then lost to Sweden in the opener of the Four Nations tournament in January, and dropped their first game to England since 1988.
“Until the referee blew the whistle, I really thought we were going to equalize,” Wambach said.
Instead, the Americans are facing yet another bumpy road.