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USA looks to extend unbeaten streak to 50 games
by Paul Kennedy, September 17th, 2007 7:30AM



[WOMEN'S WORLD CUP] After a 2-0 win over Sweden on Friday thanks to a pair of goals by Abby Wambach -- the second on a superb half-volley -- the USA faces Nigeria on Tuesday to close out group play at the Women's World Cup. A tie would be enough to put the USA into the quarterfinals, but it may need a big win (or some help from Sweden against North Korea) to avoid a potential showdown with defending champion Germany in the quarterfinals.

The USA looks to extend its unbeaten streak to 50 games -- 49 under Coach Greg Ryan -- when it faces Nigeria Tuesday in its Group B game at the Women's World Cup at the Shanghai Hongkou Football Stadium in Shanghai, China.

(ESPN will provide live coverage of the USA-Nigeria game on Tuesday at 7:55 am ET. TeleFutura will show the game live on its East feed and provide delayed coverage at 8 am PT for its Pacific feed. The game will be replayed on ESPN Classic at 5 pm ET and ESPN2 at 11 pm ET.)

The USA only needs a tie to advance to the quarterfinals but it must win the group in order to avoid a showdown with defending champion Germany, the probable Group A winner, in the quarterfinals.

Ryan's Americans are coming off a 2-0 win over Sweden on Friday thanks to a pair of Abby Wambach goals. The first came from the penalty spot in the 34th minute as the Americans recovered from a shaky start during which they were under siege by a series of early Swedish corner kicks. The penalty followed a blunder by Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl, who let a ball bounce over her head. Lori Chalupny raced under the ball and was chopped down by defender Stina Segerstrom.

The goal settled the USA, which inserted veteran midfielder Shannon Boxx for the second half during which it was rarely challenged by the Swedes. Wambach finished the game of with a superb piece of finishing. With two Swedes near her, she chested a cross from Kristine Lilly and scored on a half-volley from 12 yards. The two goals gave her three for the tournament and 80 in her career.

After a poor game against North Korea, Ryan was pleased to get a win against Sweden, the 2003 runner-up.

"I am so proud of my players," he said. "We knew that this was potentially an elimination match with Sweden. We discussed what would be the difference in the game, and I think big players win championships. You saw what Abby did tonight. She played great. Kristine Lilly played great. I thought it was a very good performance from all of our players and [goalkeeper Hope Solo] had a very strong performance tonight also."

The USA will enter its final group B game as the heavy favorite against Nigeria's Falcons -- a team it has beaten in the last two World Cups by scores of 7-1 and 5-0.

Nigeria tied Sweden, 1-1, in its Group B opener on a late goal by Cynthia Uwak. It fell to North Korea, 2-0, in its second match.

Sept. 14 in Chengdu
USA 2 Germany 0. Goals: Wambach pen. 34, pen. 58.
USA -- Solo, Rampone, Markgraf, Whitehill, Lopez, Osborne, Chalupny, Lloyd (Boxx, 46), Tarpley (O'Reilly, 67), Wambach, Lilly.
Sweden -- Lindahl, Segerstrom (Lundin, 81), Marklund, Ostberg, Paulson, Seger, Schelin, Sjogran (Fischer, 65), Forsberg, Ljungberg, Svensson.
Yellow cards: Sweden -- Segerstrom 34, Seger 93+
Referee: Gyongyi Gaal (Hungary).
Att.: 30,500.

Shots: USA 15; SWE 13.
Shots on Goal: USA 8; SWE 2.
Saves: USA 2; SWE 7.
Corner Kicks: USA 6; SWE 8.
Fouls: USA 9; SWE 9.
Offside: USA 5; SWE 0.

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