After a stellar two weeks of group play kicked off the Women’s World Cup, the 32-team pool has now reduced by half to determine who hoists the trophy on August 20. This weekend, the Round of 16 officially kicks off. Team USA faces their toughest test yet as they face off with Sweden in Melbourne looking to secure a spot in the Quarterfinals.
The Matchup: #USAvSWE
- Stage: Round of 16
- 2:00 AM PT kickoff
- Venue: Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne, Australia
- Watch: FOX40
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Outlook: United States
In its first three contests, the defending champions may not have performed at their best – but found ways to earn results despite it. Team USA made it through the group stage by a thin margin, securing a scoreless draw against Portugal in its final group match. To best Sweden, the backline – which only conceded one score in the opening three matches – will need to remain in form, and the attack will have to produce without the contribution of Rose Lavelle, who will miss the match serving a yellow card accumulation suspension.
2023 marks the ninth consecutive tournament the USWNT has reach the knockout stage. In that time, the squad is unbeaten in its opening knockout round match. Last time around in 2019, the U.S. bested Spain by a score of 2-1. Just once since 1991 has the squad required more than 90 minutes to against their first knockout stage opponent, advancing past Brazil in 2011 on penalties 5-3 in the Round of 16.
Sweden dominated arguably the tournament’s toughest group – claiming three group stage victories over Italy, Argentina, and South Africa. The world’s #2 ranked team behind the U.S. was stellar on both sides of the ball, scoring a second-best nine goals and conceding just one. As a result of their strong form to open the tournament, Head Coach Peter Gerhardsson was able to rest kept members of his squad in preparation for this weekend’s match – meaning they’ll be fully ready from the jump against the team in their crosshairs from the outset.
The U.S. shares a unique history with the Blue and Yellow at the Women’s World Cup, having faced off six times. Sunday’s contest marks the first-ever knockout stage game between the two nations.
The two sides played each other in their first ever World Cup match in 1991, a match won by the U.S. They have matched up in each tournament dating back to 2003, which was the first of five straight tournaments where they were drawn into the same group. Only once at the tournament has Sweden bested the United States – 2011 group stage matchup decided by a second half own goal.