The USWNT goes into their next match against Sweden as the top ranked team in Group D after the 3-1 victory against Australia; however they should not let that interfere on their attitude, as this game will be probably the toughest match they will have in the group phase.
This game against Sweden is going to be even more special, as former USWNT coach Pia Sundhage now leads the opposition as she coaches her home country Sweden. Pia helped the U.S. win 2 Olympic gold medals, but in December of 2012 she left to go coach the Swedish national team. To make things even more intense, in a recent interview she did comment and heavily criticized several American players.
As far as her relationship with the players, she said she never had one.
[quote_box_left]“You know, I talk to them about their mom, their dad, their boyfriend, their girlfriend or whatever, and you know what? It goes in one ear and out the other,” she said, according to The New York Times. “I try. I really try. I remember I sat with Amy Rodriguez for a long time once, talking and talking, and still I don’t know her family”, “She’s married. … I think?” she said. “I read about it maybe.”[/quote_box_left]
For Hope Solo, who has been involved in a domestic violence controversy that recently was in the news, she said Hope was one of the most challenging players to deal with “especially when it comes to trouble.”
When talking about the captain Carli Lloyd, she said she was a “challenge to coach”:
[quote_box_center]“When she felt that we had faith in her, she could be one of the best players. But if she began to question that faith, she could be one of the worst,” Sundhage said, according to The New York Times. [/quote_box_center]
As far as Abby Wambach, Pia said the player would be relegated to the bench, even though she played the full 90 minutes in the game against Australia.
[quote_box_center]“I said that to Abby,” she said. “I told her: ‘If I stayed, you would be a sub. The best sub ever. But a sub.’ There was no question about that in my mind.”[/quote_box_center]
Sweden is coming into this match very confident in themselves as well. The winner of this group, also known as the “death group” will most likely be whichever team wins this match, and unfortunately whoever finishes second might have to face Brazil in the knockout phase, which has happened to U.S. before.
The Swedish players do not seem to be afraid of the U.S., as Swede goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl commented: [quote_box_center]”We have beaten them before, and when you’ve been there once, you can do it again,” she said.[/quote_box_center]
Pia knows this teams better than anyone else, she knows their strengths and their weaknesses and she will definitely use this knowledge to her favor. However, even though her comments might actually be true, it will be interesting to see if the U.S. players will use these comments as fuel to fire them up, or to create more doubts.
As far as what tactics the U.S. should use for this next game:
- In case that Wambach ends up not finishing her chances to score, like it happened in the previous game, Jill will have to make changes and adjustments, and one of the options is to move Press up top with Leroux and use Tobin Heath in the midfield.
- As we saw in the previous game, Rapinoe is definitely looking sharp and they should use her as much as possible. She will be of great help not only scoring goals but also making assists.
- Lastly, if we see that the 4-4-2 is not working and Sweden does not give them the U.S. much space, change things up.