By ADAM WARNER
You would have expected some nervous jitters from U.S. Women’s National Team
Head Coach Pia Sundhage. She was coaching against her former team, Sweden, where she played at both
the professional and national levels. The game was being played in Holmestad, Sweden, which is only
about an hour and half away from where she grew up in Ulricehamn.
If there were any nerves from the U.S. coach, her team did everything and more to quell them early and often.
The Americans opened the scoring with an eighth-minute wonder goal from Abby Wambach, and rattled off two more to cruise to a 3-1 victory over Sweden in the opening match of the Volvo Winners Cup.
The game started with both teams feeling each other out, with shots from distance from both the U.S. and Sweden. And no sooner than eight minutes in, came the first goal. It was an absolute marvel of a
strike from the ageless wonder Wambach, who ran onto a ball and volleyed a 30-yard scorcher that sailed in to the top left corner of the net.
Sweden responded to Wambach's goal with an improved offense, attacking with relentless pressure against the the back four of the United States, which was composed of Heather Mitts, Captain Christie Rampone, Rachel Buehler, and Amy LePeilbet.
Sweden's Lotta Schelin forced U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo in to an acrobatic save in the 18th minute.
Both before and after, Schelin and the rest of the light blue and yellow had minor chances, but all were
comfortable secured by Solo.
After withstanding the barrage of attacks, the Americans countered with a punch of their own. Shannon Boxx played the ball forward for young speedster Alex Morgan, who fended off her defender before finishing with ease.
After both teams were spraying their shot high and wide, Sweden finally gave their home crowd
something to cheer about. Schelin, the biggest attacking threat so far for both sides, imposed her will
and finished a move that was assisted from Nilla Fischer. 35 minutes in, we had a one goal game.
More chances fell for the USA as Megan Rapinoe and Morgan combined out wide, before Morgan’s shot
went over the goal. That was the last of the chances before halftime, as the U.S. went in to the half with a 2-1 lead.
To start the second half, coach Sundhage made three changes in her American lineup. Subs Carli Lloyd,
Becky Saurbrunn and Tobin Heath came on for Shannon Box, Christie Rampone, and Heather O’Reilly.
Right out of the gate, Rapinoe’s header in the 46 minute was good, but not good enough as it hit the
cross bar. It was a sign of things to come though, as the U.S. would not be content with just their one
In the 56th minute the midfield sub, Tobin Heath met Wambach’s cross from the right side, and finished
just as beautifully as we’ve come to see from Wambach over the years. Her header was low and away,
extending their lead for the red, white, and blue to 3-1.
That goal seemingly took the wind out of the sails for the Swedish side, who seemed uninspired to be
climbing back once again from a two goal deficit. They didn’t muster many chances throughout the
second half, as they allowed the U.S. to once again try shots from long-range.
Megan Rapinoe came off in the 63rd minute to make way for Amy Rodriquez. And Alex Morgan was
subbed off for Sydney Leroux in the 74th minute.
Defender Amy LePeilbet came forward late in the 88th minute, with her cross from out wide finding the
head of Wambach, but the veteran’s attempt flew wide.
That was the last of the chances for either side, as the game came to a close. The U.S. dominated the
second half, and dictated the tempo of the match, with Sweden seemingly conceiving that they were the
lesser side today. The Americans improved their record to 12-1-1 on the year.
The U.S. Women will face 2011 FIFA World Cup winners Japan on Monday (7 a.m., Universal Sports Network). Japan is the only side that has beaten the WNT this year.