New England Soccer Today

U.S. Settles for Lackluster Draw

Photo credit: Debby von Winckelmann/Prost Amerika

Photo credit: Debby von Winckelmann/Prost Amerika

There’s no way around it: the 0-0 draw between the U.S. and Sweden was nothing short of disappointing for American fans. Through the first two group stage matches, the U.S. four points, Australia three points, Sweden two points and Nigeria one point.

In the first half, Sweden controlled the pace very well. They switched around their attack by passing around their back four, which led to a majority of the possession, and they really kept the pace of the game slow. They were unlucky when a well struck ball hit Sydney Leroux’s hand in the box, which should have led to a penalty.

U.S. fullback Ali Krieger was the standout player in the first half. She passed extremely well to Lauren Holiday and Carli Lloyd, and created a few solid chances in the box. Krieger worked just as hard on defense, and kept her head on a swivel and was ready to intercept a number of crosses. Meanwhile, Sweden’s wingers, Lina Nilsson and Sofia Jakobsson, both struggled to get anything going on the outside.

It seemed pretty apparent that both teams played scared of conceding the first goal. Most of the play focused on buildup rather than shooting. The U.S. did very well defending corners, they cleared the ball far enough so that no follow up balls could be played in.

U.S. forward Christen Press the forward was not particularly impressive. She had the opportunity to shoot or make a pass that would lead to a shot several times, and she left it short. It was as if she didn’t know what to do with the ball once she had it. Another thing: she does not play well with her back to goal, and that was the position she found herself on a few times.

The best passing came between Krieger and Megan Rapinoe. In fact, Jakobsson kept getting caught in the middle of the field, which left Krieger wide open to take the ball up the field and cross or shoot. The switch led to a quick transition, but couldn’t amount to anything on the scoreboard.

The second half is where things start to get chippy. There was pushing and shoving going on after every ball that went out of play and on the corners holding was the norm. There were 18 corner kicks in total, but no goals to show for it. Meghan Klingenberg made the save of the match on a 77th minute corner kick when she headed a dangerous Carolina Seger ball straight up into the bar to dismantle Sweden’s best chance of cracking the board late.

While the U.S. may have avoided a penalty call against them in the first half, the soccer gods must’ve chortled when Sweden’s Nilla Fischer handballed a cross in the box in the second half, and no spot kick was given. The referee must have assumed the ball struck her chest because her arm was clearly in an unnatural position and the hand helped her gain control of the ball.

Jill Ellis’ second half subs were all good ideas. When Abby Wambach came on for Press, the energy level in the stadium rose significantly. Amy Rodriguez proved during qualifying that she can find ways to score, and the U.S. needed the offense that Morgan Brian wasn’t providing. Meanwhile, Leroux looked exhausted when Alex Morgan came on to replace her.

In the next few days, Ellis will need to figure out a combination up top that will work. Leroux and Press didn’t have good chemistry. The forwards didn’t play off of each other and lead to chances.

Sweden managed to keep themselves alive, and the draw must’ve felt like a win to them. While the U.S. will more than likely move forward, this leaves their ability to win it all in serious doubt.

Thanks to the 0-0 draw, this Group D is entirely up for grabs. No one has qualified or been eliminated yet. Luckily, Nigeria doesn’t seem to use its subs very often, and the U.S. can only hope Tuesday’s opponent will be tired as a result. It was disappointing to see that the U.S. couldn’t find a way to score. You’re not going to win the World Cup if you can’t put the ball in the back of the net.

Leave a Reply