The US and Sweden will meet this afternoon in the final throes of the Women’s World Cup group stage, and the USWNT will be looking for revenge.
The last time these two teams met was in the Rio Olympics three years ago, and it was not pretty.
Sweden defeated the USWNT on penalties in the quarterfinals, handing the Americans their first Olympic loss in 16 years – and keeping them from reaching the gold medal match for the first time since women’s soccer debuted at the Olympics in 1996.
After the loss, Hope Solo, the USWNT’s famously outspoken goalkeeper, called the Swedish team “cowards” and said the team’s conservative playing style showed they didn’t want to “play great soccer.”
Former coach Pia Sundhage, who coached both US and Swedish teams in Olympic and World Cup matches, fired back.
“It is OK to be a coward if you win,” she said.
Like we said. Not pretty.
But it is a new day, and the USWNT is fresh off two, ah, very decisive group stage wins. They routed Thailand 13-0 (and caught serious flack for it), and then finished off Chile by a clean 3-0.
Sweden has also had a good run, beating Chile 2-0 and Thailand 5-1.
Sweden is considered to be the biggest threat to the US within their group, and the team is ranked #9 in the world by FIFA. (The US, of course, is ranked #1.)
“They’ve always been a really organized, disciplined team and they’re really hard to break down,” the USWNT’s Crystal Dunn said in a press conference before the match. “Theyre going to be a challenging team. I know that they’re going to give us their A-game and we’re definitely going to give them ours as well.”
So, game on. 3 p.m. ET.