USA-Sweden Preview: 2016 Olympic match gives Sweden confidence, USA motivation

The USA and Sweden meet Thursday at the Stade Oceane in Le Havre to decide first place in Group F and a date with Spain on Monday in Rennes -- and the potential soirée of the tournament against host France on June 28 in the quarterfinals.

Both teams are through to the round of 16 with wins in their first two matches. The USA will claim the Group F title with a win or loss; Sweden will take first if it wins.

The USA's first two opponents -- Thailand (13-0) and Chile (3-0) -- were pushovers, but the Swedes won't be.

The USA and Sweden will meet for the sixth time -- all in the group stage -- at eight Women's World Cup. The USA won the first three times, but since then the Swedes won, 2-1, in 2011 and tied the USA, 0-0, in 2015.

Hedvig Lindahl was Sweden's goalkeeper in 2011 and 2015 and also in 2016 when the USA lost to Sweden in a shootout after their Olympic women's soccer quarterfinal match ended in a 1-1 tie.

“They don’t have that mental advantage they might have had before when we hadn’t managed to beat them," Lindahl told's Swedish reporter ahead of Thursday's game. "Now we know that we can."

Kosovare Asllani started for Sweden in the 2015 and 2016 matches and is its leading scorer at the 2019 World Cup with goals in each of its first two games.

"We always perform well against USA," said Asllani, who played with the Chicago Red Stars in 2010.

Indeed, Sweden is the only team that has played the USA evenly in recent years with a .500 record -- three wins, three losses and four ties -- in their last 10 meetings.

In 2016, Lindahl was excellent during the 120 minutes, then stopped Alex Morgan on the first U.S. attempt and watched as Christen Press missed on the fifth shot of the shootout. Lisa Dahlkvist then converted for the Swedes whose 4-3 victory ended the USA's string of three straight Olympic gold medals.

Press, whose career took off when she went to Sweden in 2012, said on Wednesday that the 2016 match serves as motivation for the U.S women in France just as she learned the shootout loss to Japan in the 2011 World Cup final that she was not a part of was a motivation for the U.S. women in 2015 when they won.

"Despite the fact that it's been three years, you don't forget the taste in your mouth when you fail and when you lose in a world championship," Press said. "And I think there's a little bit of that that will definitely act as motivation. And you always play to win and not having that feeling."

Press learning from the penalty kick miss allowed her to build character and not get down after small day-to-day setbacks.

"I think when I look back on my career," she said, "all the moments that I'm most proud of have come after failure. That's the easiest one to point at and look at, and look at that clear failure, and then evaluate how I did in responding to it. I think the strength that it takes to step back up and be courageous and let it go, and to continue to fight for your dreams and not let the outside noise affect what you're doing, I think I am very proud of that."

Photo: Bruno Spada/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

2 comments about "USA-Sweden Preview: 2016 Olympic match gives Sweden confidence, USA motivation".
  1. Bob Ashpole, June 20, 2019 at 12:38 a.m.

    Regardless of who is rested and is started, both teams will be playing for pride, and I expect both coaches will plan for a result to build momentum.

  2. stewart hayes, June 20, 2019 at 3:01 p.m.

    Being a game that neither team needs to win it is likely to be played conservatively.  There are three good reasons for this to be the case, legs, injuries and yellow cards,  This is especially the case for the Swedes since they arguably have less depth.  The US have more to prove to themselves giving them a narrow psychological advantage.  Still, playing a smart tactical game is what this team needs at this point in the tournament.  Win or lose the path to the final is a toss up as to difficulty.  The one who will be tested in this match is Ellis because I think the game will come down to her decisions on the line up, substitutions and tactical plan.  Winning is not worth playing this like it is the final.  The team has to keep it's eye on the prize.  

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