For the first time ever, all four teams in a group drew in their first game. North Korea played valiantly against the Americans in a 1-1 tie. Both of these teams, two of the top 3 teams in the world, need a win today.
5:02, 2nd minute: The U.S. has already given away three corner kicks in two minutes. Sweden is really pressing the ball early, and we haven’t been able to clear the ball yet.
5:04, 4th minute: four minutes, four corner kicks for Sweden. Hope Solo has handled the pressure well, but team USA needs to regain control of this game.
5:06, 6th minute: Who’s playing “Jingle Bells” on their trumpet in the middle of the game?
5:07, 7th minute: The Americans get their first chance, but Carli Lloyd can’t quite get to the ball in the box. in sliding for the ball, she seemed to undercut the Swedish goalkeeper, and he’s clearly hurting. They’re going to keep her in the game, as Sweden in down to their second option at goalie to begin with.
5:11, 11th minute: Abby Wambach gets the first shot on goal for the U.S., but Lindahl makes the save easily.
Wait a minute…holy cow, a clear sun in China! It’s apparently rainy season around Chengdu, so sun this time of year is an anomaly.
5:14, 14th minute: The USA get their first set piece of the game, a free kick. Not a very good kick though, as the keeper stops it without problems.
5:16, 16th minute: The Americans get another shot, this time on the breakaway. Lindahl reaches out for the save, but she manages to “save it” by sitting on the ball.
5:20, 20th minute: Whitehill kick the deep free kick, and she very nearly gets the goal as Lindahl misplays it. She has to make quite a leap to make the save and force the corner kick.
5:22, 23rd minute: USA get a couple more set pieces in the the Swedish zone, but they didn’t really a threaten the goal with their shots. The Americans have definitely played better in the last ten minutes, but Sweden still seems to have an upper hand.
5:26, 26th minute: The Swedish back line is handling the ball well. Team USA hasn’t played the ball well, but it’s still tied and we’re gaining momentum.
5:27, 27th minute: Team USA very…nearly…tackled a Swedish player in the penalty box to force a penalty kick. That’s about the worst thing that could happen right now.
5:31, 31st minute: Half an hour gone in this game…Sweden has held the ball for too long.
5:33, 33rd minute: What a mistake by Lindahl! She completely misplays the free kick, it sails over her head, and Lori Chalupny is wide open. But a Swedish defender is forced to make a tackle, and team USA gets a fortunate penalty kick.
5:34, 34th minute: GOAL! Abby Wambach takes the penalty kick, and she fakes out the keeper and scores easily. USA leads, 1-0 and has all the momentum now, thanks to a huge Swedish mistake.
5:36, 36th minute: Wait a minute, Julie Foudy…there are blogs dedicated to women’s soccer?
5:38, 38th minute: Team USA has gotten a couple of chancesin the box since the first goal, but either good defense or bad passing has ended any threats.
5:41, 41st minute: Wamabach manges to fake out a couple of defenders just outside the box, before making a cross pass to an open Carli Lloyd. The ball is deflected, and Lloyd’s shot is too high. Still, since the goal team USA is dominating possession as Sweden did in the first ten minutes or so.
5:46, 45+ minutes: It’s halftime, and USA leads 1-0. The Americans got their act together in the final 15 minutes after Sweden dictated the pace of the first 30. Then Lindahl, the goalkeeper, made a huge mistake on a free kick, at it led to Wambach’s PK goal. A win is very much in the USA’s reach, but they’ll need to stay aggressive on offense and keep the ball out of Swedish possession.
6:01 am, 46th minute: The second half begins, as team USa has made one substitution. Shannon Boxx is in for Carli Lloyd.
Nothing against today’s head referee, but he kind of looks like a fish.
6:04, 48th minute: Team USA isn’t handling the ball well to start the second half. Fortunately, neither is Sweden.
6:05, 49th minute: OH! Kristine Lilly had a very good look in the box, off a great pass. But she can;t quite get the shot across her body and low enough for goal.
6:08, 52nd minute: The Americans haven’t quite fixed their defensive issues; Sweden keeps getting set pieces in the offensive zone.
6:12, 56th minute: Sweden gets yet another free kick. This time USA’s wall blocks it, but Sweden gets a corner.
6:13, 57th minute: Complete chaos in front of goal on the corner kick, but Solo makes the nice save.
6:14, 58th minute: GOAL! What a score by Wamabach! She takes the ball in the box, and after bringing the ball down, she delivers a monster strike with her left foot to the top corner of the net. Lindahl stood no chance. Team USA now leads 2-0, and Sweden might be going into panic mode soon.
6:18, 62nd minute: USA is called for what I think is the first offside penalty of the game. What I want to know is, how can you get offside during a corner kick?
6:20, 64th minute: Sweden makes a substitution. Nilla Fischer is in. I have no idea who Nilla Fischer is.
6:22, 66th minute: Heather O’Reilly comes into the game, which I understand and don’t understand at the same time. While we could use some fresh legs, O’Reilly is a clearly offensive player when we don’t need offense right now. I guess coach Ryan wants to stay aggressive.
6:29, 73rd minute: Team USA has remained in control of the game, and after the second goal Sweden has yet to put a shot on goal.
6:31, 75th minute: Kristine Lilly very nearly scores another goal for the U.S. after a another long free kick for Whitehill. Only a slide in by Lindahl prevents the game from getting really out of hand.
6:33, 77th minute: Free kick for Sweden. Hope Solo is caught out of position, but the Swedish offense can’t take advantage. Solo is clearly favoring her right shoulder now.
6:35, 79th minute: Ostberg takes a curving shot from outside the box, and Solo needs to make a great save. On the ensuing corner kick, Hanna Ljungberg gets a very good look at goal, but she misses wide.
6:39, 83rd minute: the USA defense falls asleep at the wheel and Sweden almost gets a breakaway chance. Fortunately, the defense wakes up and prevents a shot. Sweden gets another corner kick, and again Ljungberg misses a great opportunity. It’s not looking good for the Valkyries, who have yet to score a goal in this tournament.
6:49, Full Time: And it’s over. Team USA wins, 2-0 over Sweden. Abby Wambach had a huge game, and Team USA got it together in the last 30 minutes, almost completely dictating pace in the end. An impressive win for the Americans, and now the #3 ranked Swedes must beat North Korea–badly–and hope that Nigeria doesn’t emerge with an upset.