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Sweden tops U.S. Women's National Team 2-1 in Four Nations opener

Sweden topped the U.S. Women’s National Team 2-1 to open each team’s Four Nations Tournament campaign.

Midfielder Carli Lloyd opened the scoring for the U.S. in just the 11th minute off a Megan Rapinoe corner kick. Rapinoe whipped the ball in and forward Lauren Cheney flicked it on to Lloyd, who headed it in to give the U.S. an early lead.

But Sweden equalized just five minutes later, also off a corner kick.  Midfielder Therese Sjogran served the ball low off the corner kick and defender Stina Segerstrom sent a low shot in past U.S. goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart.

Former Chicago Red Stars midfielder Kosovare Asllani struck the winner for Sweden in the 61st minute when she buried a cross from Lina Nilsson.  Sweden walked away with a 2-1 win just six months before the two teams will meet in Group C at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.  The U.S. was outshot 12-6 on the day. Check out the box score below for team line-ups.

“Very, very disappointed,” midfielder Shannon Boxx said.  “We don’t have the excuse of a long (club) season, we had good rest, and coming back into our first tournament we need to step it up.  I think everyone knows what we need to do.  It’s mainly coming together as a team and the attitude that we present every game needs to be better.  It’s going to come we just have to keep our heads up, which is what we said after the game.   We have two more games in this tournament and we just have to focus on ourselves.”

Next up for the U.S. is a match with rival Canada at 6 a.m. ET on Sunday.  Canada also opened the tournament Friday, defeating China 3-2 in come-from-behind fashion.

The Skinny:

U.S. fans need not overreact at the result.  The Women’s World Cup is still six months away and at least slowly – very slowly – some changes are seemingly being implemented.  Youngsters Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath all saw time in this game and, most notably, the central midfield pair of Lloyd and Shannon Boxx was replaced at halftime by Lori Lindsey and Yael Averbuch.  So, Head Coach Pia Sundhage is willing to experiment, even if it is only a little.

What is frustrating to see for the U.S. is that in the case of Leroux in particular, she entered the match in the 86th minute, allowing her to have little to no time to make an impact.

The back line is clearly still trying to come together, a tough task given the absence of vocal leader Hope Solo in net.  All four defenders (Heather Mitts, Amy LePeilbet, Christie Rampone and Rachel Buehler) went the full 90 minutes, but there is a clear hesitation to break from that back four. Ali Krieger did not make the trip to China, but Becky Sauerbrunn and Stephanie Cox watched from the bench and Brittany Taylor watched from the stands.  Sundhage would be wise to give one of them (preferably Krieger, but that won’t happen in this tournament) a serious look at right back, where Mitts has struggled.  Also, will Ashlyn Harris see time in net?  It would be great experience for her.

It would be unfair to draw too many conclusions from a mere match report out of China, but it seems Sundhage is willing to make some changes and insert young players.  Whether or not that happens in the defense remains to be seen.  The bigger question is whether or not it will reignite this U.S. squad.

Box Score:

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Sweden
Date: Jan. 21, 2011
Competition: 2011 Four Nations Tournament
Venue: Yongchuan Sports Centre Stadium; Chongqing, China
Kickoff: 3:35 p.m. local / 2:35 a.m. ET
Attendance: 16,000
Weather: Cold, haze – 40 degrees

Scoring Summary:  1  2  F
USA                         1  0  1
SWE                         1  1  2

USA – Carli Lloyd (Lauren Cheney)                 11th minute
SWE — Stina Segerström (Therese Sjögran)     16
SWE – Kosovare Asllani (Lina Nilsson)             61

Lineups:
USA: 18-Nicole Barnhart; 2-Heather Mitts, 6-Amy LePeilbet, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 19-Rachel Buehler; 9-Heather O’Reilly (26-Sydney Leroux, 86), 7-Shannon Boxx (4-Yael Averbuch, 46), 10-Carli Lloyd (16-Lori Lindsey, 46), 15-Megan Rapinoe (11-Tobin Heath, 71); 12-Lauren Cheney, 8-Amy Rodriguez (13-Alex Morgan, 72)
Subs not used: 14-Stephanie Cox, 21-Kelley O’Hara, 22-Becky Sauerbrunn, 24-Ashlyn Harris
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage

SWE: 1-Hedvig Lindahl; 13-Lina Nilsson, 2-Charlotte Rohlin (capt.), 3-Stina Segerström, 4-Annica Svensson; 10-Kosovare Asllani (19-Johanna Almgren, 61), 17-Lisa Dahlkvist (18-Louise Fors, 78), 16-Linda Forsberg (6-Linda Sembrant, 81), 15-Therese Sjögran; 9-Antonia Göransson (5-Marie Hammarström, 62), 14-Josefine Öqvist (8-Madelaine Edlund, 73)
Subs not used: 12-Kristin Hammarström, 20-Johanna Frisk, 31-Tilda Heimerson
Head Coach: Thomas Dennerby

Statistical Summary: USA / SWE
Shots: 7 / 12
Shots on Goal: 4 / 8
Saves: 6 / 2
Corner Kicks: 6 / 9
Fouls: 6 / 9
Offside: 3 / 6

Misconduct Summary:
None

Officials:
Referee: Qin Liang (CHN)
Assistant Referee 1: Zhang Lingling (CHN)
Assistant Referee 2: Wu Chun (CHN )
Fourth Official: He Jin (CHN)

Full match report

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