The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) will face Sweden in the Round of 16 of the Women’s World Cup on Sunday in Melbourne. A big test awaits the US as it faces its old rivals in its first knockout game of the tournament.
Following a string of mediocre performances in the group stage – ties against the Netherlands and Portugal, a 3-0 over Vietnam – the USWNT has yet to showcase its best Down Under. For a team that is used to dominating in the World Cup group stages, its outings have lacked ruthlessness, clinicality, and composure in front of goal. They barely qualified for the Round of 16 after drawing 0-0 with Portugal on Tuesday to finish second in Group E.
Former USWNT captain Carli Lloyd even said they were lucky not to be sent home from the group stages during Fox Soccer’s postgame coverage.
Head coach Vlatko Andonovski’s side will be without Rose Lavelle for the knockout clash. The OL Reign midfielder has been a crucial cog in the USWNT wheel since her breakout performance in the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Lavelle received a yellow card in the 39th minute of the Portugal match, resulting in the one-match ban.
As the Group G winner, Sweden notched up its wins against South Africa, Italy, and Argentina by scoring nine goals and conceding just one. They wrapped up their group stage campaign with a 2-0 win over Argentina on Wednesday while resting some crucial players for the quarterfinal bout against the defending champions.
Swedish manager Peter Gerhardsson left goalscorers Stina Blackstenius and Fridolina Rolfö out of the starting lineup but is expected to start his strongest team on Sunday.
Ranked third in the world, the Swedes will pose a major threat to the USA’s three-peat hopes. They have competed in all nine editions of the Women’s World Cup — their best result coming in 2003 as runners-up to Germany. In France four years ago, they finished third behind runners-up Netherlands and champions USA. Their form over the last 12 months, however, has varied. At the Women’s Euros last year, England handed Sweden a gut-wrenching 4-0 defeat in the semifinals.
These two sides have a history. Sweden eliminated the US from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, handing the Americans their earliest exit from an Olympic Games ever. The nations met again in 2021 with Sweden getting the better of the US in a 3-0 win at the Tokyo Olympics, ending its 44-match win streak. The last time these two nations met at a Women’s World Cup, the US emerged victorious over the Blågult in a 2-0 result.
Kick-off is scheduled for Sunday, Aug 6, at 5 am ET.
USWNT vs. Sweden odds
- USWNT to win: +105
- Sweden to win: +255
- Draw after 90 minutes: +215
Odds courtesy of DraftKings. For more, click here.
For more on the USWNT, visit AMNY.com