U.S. wants win vs Swedes, even if it would mean tougher path

LE HAVRE, France — Victory is the goal for the United States in its group stage finale against Sweden, even though a loss might give the Americans an easier path through the knockout rounds of the Women’s World Cup.

“I think it’s in our team’s DNA to want to win and do really well,” defender Abby Dahlkemper said Tuesday, two days ahead of the Group F finale.

The defending champion U.S. and Sweden both enter with two wins and have clinched berths in the round of 16. The top-ranked Americans have the better goal difference and with a win or draw would play Spain in the round of 16 and could face No. 4 France in a quarterfinal at Paris’ Parc des Princes and No. 3 England in the semifinals.

The team that finishes second in the group meets the Netherlands or Canada in the round of 16, then could have a quarterfinal against No. 2 Germany, which would not have the backing of a large home crowd the way host nation France does every match.

U.S. coach Jill Ellis says she can’t convince her players not to tackle in practice, so asking them to hold back against Sweden is a losing cause. Ellis thinks it is dangerous to try to tailor results based on possible matchups.

“We want to win every game, so I think that’s where we’re at and that’s what we want to do,” Ellis said. “I think if you get too much into manipulating or planning or overthinking something, I just don’t think that that’s a good message.”

The United States has played Sweden six times in the group stage at the World Cup, including a 0-0 draw four years ago in Canada.

They met again in the quarterfinals at the 2016 Olympics, where the Swedes — led by former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage — bunkered in on defence and advanced on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw. It was the earliest exit for the Americans at an Olympics. U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo infamously called the Swedes “cowards.”

The only meeting since then was a 1-0 U.S. win in a 2017 friendly at Goteborg.

After the U.S. opened with a record-setting 13-0 rout of Thailand, Ellis changed seven starters in a 3-0 win over Chile.

“If you want to go far in the tournament, you’ve got to have (fresh) legs,” Ellis said, explaining her rotation.

No. 9 Sweden started with a 2-0 victory over Chile and followed with a 5-1 win over Thailand.

“It’s going to be a completely different match, and it will be very important for us, naturally,” Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson said. “When you go into the second round we’ll have more matches against teams like the U.S. rather than matches against the one with Chile. But we have to win the matches to get through it, it’s all about how games develop and how players perform but it will be a different match and we will approach it differently tactically.”

No. 13 Spain made its World Cup debut four years ago and was eliminated in the group stage.

“They’re both talented,” La Rioja defender Celia Jimenez said. “I think any team that qualifies for the World Cup, it’s because they’re good enough. The U.S. has a really powerful team, they play a direct game, they like to be dangerous, but at the same time I think Sweden is as well a really good team. They also tend to play direct, so they kind of are similar teams.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Olds RCMP seize stolen trucks during execution of search warrant

A search by OLDS RCMP has resulted in the seizure of stolen… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP arrest two in relation to Normandeau robbery involving firearm

Red Deer RCMP arrested and charged two people in connection with an… Continue reading

Soroptimists celebrate International Women’s Day

Soroptimist International of Central Alberta presents awards

Nissa the wolf charms visitors

Wolf Walks at Discovery Wildlife Park

Your community calendar

Feb. 19 A Liberation of Holland event is being held at the… Continue reading

New highway to B.C. proposed

The Howse Pass shortcut to British Columbia is worth taking another look… Continue reading

Stolen car provides opportunity to try out public transit

I had my car stolen on Jan. 10, just as our one… Continue reading

Chiefs say RCMP and pipeline firm must leave before they meet with government

VANCOUVER — A Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief says the chiefs won’t meet with… Continue reading

Any other protesters would be sitting in jail by now

I’d really like to know why the current Indigenous pipeline blockades aren’t… Continue reading

Wolfpack hooker James Cunningham out for six months after hamstring surgery

The Toronto Wolfpack’s depleted squad has taken another hit with James Cunningham… Continue reading

Virologist: Tokyo Olympics probably couldn’t be held now

TOKYO — A respected Japanese virologist on Wednesday said if the Tokyo… Continue reading

Bong happy ‘Parasite’ succeeded despite disparity it showed

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — Oscar-winning “Parasite” director Bong Joon-ho said Wednesday… Continue reading

Most Read