Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By CAITLIN MURRAY
A two-year unbeaten streak for U.S. Women’s National Team is over.
Sweden defeated the USWNT 1-0 at the Algarve Cup in Portugal Friday on a spectacular header from Lotta Schelin and a missed penalty kick from Abby Wambach.
It was coach Tom Sermanni’s first loss since taking the helm of the USWNT in January 2013. But perhaps even more stinging, the loss came at the hands of the coach he replaced, Sweden’s Pia Sundhage, who started the 43-game unbeaten streak.
In the 15th minute, forward Amy Rodriguez was taken down one-on-one, drawing a questionable penalty kick opportunity, but Wambach failed to convert. Her low, relaxed attempt was easily read by goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl, who stopped it near the post.
The No. 1-ranked USWNT came out with high pressure and successfully disrupted No. 6-ranked Sweden’s rhythm early on, but the breakthrough came in the 24th minute. A cross from the left side was met by Schelin, who shook off captain Christie Rampone running away from goal and headed it to the far corner.
Similar to Japan in the USWNT’s Algarve Cup opener two days earlier, Sweden fielded a full-strength squad of their best talent, including Schelin, a veteran who is coming off a particularly good award-winning 2013.
The pairing of Wambach and Rodriguez up top looked somewhat unprepared for Sweden’s pressure in a much more physical match than Wednesday’s. Alex Morgan is still recovering from an ankle injury and Sydney Leroux wasn’t feeling well, according to U.S. Soccer. Christen Press subbed on for Rodriguez in the 70th minute and Sarah Hagen earned her first cap replacing Wambach in the 81st.
Friday was the second time the USWNT played against Sundhage since she joined Sweden, last seeing her at the previous year’s Algarve Cup, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Sundhage finished her U.S. coaching career with a 88-6-10 record overall and had led the USWNT to a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics, winning all six matches in that campaign, before leaving at the end of 2012 to return to her native Sweden.
The USWNT continues their Algarve Cup run Monday, facing Denmark – but with the loss to Sweden, the Americans won’t make the final. The games are not being televised in the U.S.
What do you think of the U.S. breaking their unbeaten streak? Will this change coach Tom Sermanni’s preparations for the 2015 Women’s World Cup?
Share your thoughts below.