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U.S. ends group stage at Women's World Cup with 2-1 loss to Sweden; will face Brazil in quarters

Sweden’s players celebrate their 2-1 World Cup win to end the group stage unbeaten as American Lauren Cheney heads off.

Associated Press

Sweden’s players celebrate their 2-1 World Cup win to end the group stage unbeaten as American Lauren Cheney heads off.

WOLFSBURG, Germany — The warning signs were there all along. In Cancun, Mexico, in November. In Chongqing, China, in January. In London in April.

Each of those games ended in a 2-1 loss for the U.S. women's soccer team — first to Mexico, then to Sweden, then to England. Each time the message was the same: The United States, once regarded as virtually invincible, is invincible no more.

Wednesday at the World Cup, Sweden proved the point, handing the Americans another 2-1 loss, and this time the consequences for the United States could be unpleasant. Instead of playing a relative soccer minnow, Australia, in the quarterfinals, the United States has to play unbeaten, untied and unscored-upon Brazil on Sunday.

Brazil beat Equatorial Guinea 3-0 to secure the top spot in Group D.

Suddenly, the prospects of the United States adding a World Cup title to those won in 1991 and 1999 do not look as rosy. It was Brazil that routed the Americans 4-0 in the semifinals of the 2007 World Cup.

Brazil has swept through this tournament. Along with host Germany and Sweden, it is 3-0 after the first round.

The Americans needed only a tie to avoid Brazil in the quarters. Instead, they suffered their first loss ever in Cup group play and lost their group, C, to Sweden.

"After, what I said to the team is, my glass is half full," coach Pia Sundhage said. "Even though we lost, we can come out as a winner if we take a different path. … I really want us to embrace this process. I think the team will get stronger. That's the plan."

Goals by Lisa Dahlkvist, on a penalty kick, and Nilla Fischer, on a deflected free kick, gave the Swedes a 2-0 halftime lead.

Former Gator Abby Wambach got the United States back in the game in the 67th minute with her first goal of the tournament, but as they have all year, the Americans squandered too many other chances.

Wambach, who played despite missing the previous two days of practice with tendinitis in her right Achilles' tendon, said adversity would only strengthen U.S. resolve. "That's kind of been our journey so far, so why change things now?" she said.

Sweden put the United States on its heels early after Amy LePeilbet tripped Lotta Schelin in the box in the 14th minute to give the Swedes a penalty kick. Dahlkvist curled the ball into the left side of the net. U.S. goalie Hope Solo dived in full stretch, but the ball was just beyond her fingertips.

"I was thinking that she's smaller than me now in this moment," Dahlkvist said of Solo. "She's afraid of me."

The goal snapped Solo's scoreless streak at 796 minutes, second longest in U.S. history. It also ended a run of eight shutouts, dating to March 2010.

Sweden is one of the few teams that can match up physically with the Americans, and they didn't always handle it well, such as in the 35th minute, when Rachel Buehler was whistled for dragging down Therese Sjogran about 25 yards out.

Fischer, filling in as captain with Caroline Seger serving a yellow-card suspension, hammered a free kick into LePeilbet's thigh. Solo, already moving to her left, was caught off-guard and could do nothing to stop the ball from bouncing into the net. "It was very unfortunate," Solo said.

Other games: Kyah Simon scored twice to give Australia a 2-1 win over Norway and put her team into the quarters and eliminate Norway. … Already-eliminated North Korea and Colombia drew 0-0. Neither team scored a goal at the tournament.

Women's World Cup

Quarterfinals Semifinals Championship Semifinals Quarterfinals
France (A) Australia (D)
Noon Saturday; ESPN 7 a.m. Sunday; ESPN
noon July 13; ESPN 2:45 p.m. July 13; ESPN
England (B) Sweden (C)
2:45 p.m. July 17; ESPN
U.S. (C) Japan (B)
1130 a.m. Sunday; ESPN 2:45 p.m. Saturday; ESPN
Third place: 11:30 a.m. July 16; ESPN2
Brazil (D) Germany (A)


GROUP A

GP W D L GF GA Pts

Germany 330 0 739

France32 0 1746

Nigeria 310 10 2 3

Canada 30 0 3170

GROUP B

GP W D L GF GA Pts

England32 10 527

Japan3201636

Mexico 30 21 372

New Zealand 30 12 461

GROUP C

GP W D L GF GA Pts

Sweden330 0 419

United States32 01626

North Korea 3012 0 3 1

Colombia 30 12 0 4 1

GROUP D

GP W D L GF GA Pts

Brazil 330 0 70 9

Australia 320 1 546

Norway 31 0 2253

Equ. Guinea 30 0 32 70

Sweden 2

U.S. 1

>>UP NEXT

U.S. vs. Brazil

What: Women's World Cup quarterfinal

When: 11:30 a.m. Sunday

TV: ESPN

U.S. ends group stage at Women's World Cup with 2-1 loss to Sweden; will face Brazil in quarters 07/06/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 6, 2011 10:56pm]

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