USWNT gets wake-up call against Sweden; Andonovski: 'It's not good enough'

Sweden is probably the best team the USA will face at the Summer Olympics, and it should have beaten the USA on Saturday.

For the first time in a long time, the USA wasn't the better team, and it took a fortunate penalty call to earn a 1-1 tie on Saturday in Stockholm.

The USA equalized in the 87th minute when Megan Rapinoe converted a penalty kick after Finnish referee Lina Lehtovaara whistled a foul for Sofia Jakobsson on Kelley O'Hara in the penalty area. There was no doubt about the foul, but replays showed it took place outside the area.

USA gets off hook. Sweden had beaten the USA at its own game, using power and precision to go ahead in the first half when Lina Hurtig towered over the U.S. defense and scored on a header off Kosovare Asllani's well-delivered corner kick.

The Swedes had two chances to add to their lead and couldn't capitalize -- first when U.S. keeper Alyssa Naeher foiled Fridolina Rolfö's breakaway at the end of the first half and then when Jakobsson rounded Naeher with the goal unattended in the 54th minute -- but they left the USA off the hook.

Sweden, which knocked the USA out of the 2016 Olympics and qualified for the Tokyo Olympics as one of the three best European teams at the 2019 Women's World Cup, is one of the few teams that can match the USA's athleticism and composure.

Swedish experience. Sweden's Damallsvenskan doesn't begin until April 17, but most of the best Swedes now play in other top European leagues. Five starters play on teams that recently competed in the UEFA Women's Champions League quarterfinals.

"It’s something that was very good for us," said U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski . "That’s why we came here. We came here to play good teams, we came here to get exposed to different tactics, high-level tactics, organized teams and to try to overcome all of that."

The USA outshot the Swedes, 20-9, but struggled to break them down like they easily do against most outmatched opponents. Its dominance of vastly inferior foes belies how often it struggles to put together coordinated combinations to unlock defenses.

“If we play the way we played today, it’s not good enough," Andonovski added. "And I know that. Nobody has to tell me that."

Saturday's result snapped the USA's 16-game winning streak -- the third longest in its history -- since Andonovski took charge in November 2019. But the late goal preserved the USA's unbeaten streak at 38 games.

Stade Océane rematch. The last time the USA lost was 3-1 to France in January 2019. On Tuesday, the USA will return to Le Havre's Stade Océane, site of that loss. Les Bleues won't be going to Tokyo, so it will be their Olympic moment.

France has been the most successful team against the USA in the last decade, inflicting three of its (only!) 11 losses.

15 comments about "USWNT gets wake-up call against Sweden; Andonovski: 'It's not good enough'".
  1. R2 Dad, April 11, 2021 at 2:19 a.m.

    I need to hear Vkatko tell us HOW it wasn't good enough--I get nothing from him with these after-match comments. What I observed is that our ladies just fire away anywhere around the 18. Rapinoe will dribble if possible but throughout the highlight clip I saw attackers arriving at the 18 alone, with little support. In order to break down their  defense we should be attempting to combine passes, recycle and hold possession. I don't see Vlatko emphasizing this when we play lesser teams so am not surprised we can't do it against Sweden, France or Spain.

  2. John Elliot replied, April 11, 2021 at 11:11 a.m.

    While I keep hoping Lynn Williams will improve her ball skills, her pace alone will not defeat a team like Sweden. And Lloyd is not a consistently effective player anymore (assuming she ever was which is doubtful) and can only try to be opportunistic. She turns the ball over far too much, takes bad shots and can only occasionally apply ball pressure. If the US has to depend on her to win against strong teams then it is in trouble. Better performances from better players in those spots would make a huge difference. 

  3. Shaka Walker, April 11, 2021 at 7 a.m.

    The wake up call is that the gap is narrowing and might not exist against the better sides.  If our dominance is based on being able to overpower the other teams, we should not expect that to last.  Tactically and technically we have some work to do.  Hopefully this match will help spur a bit of self-examination.

  4. E Velazquez, April 11, 2021 at 7:33 a.m.

    a complete attacker is the one player who can shoot from outside the big area like R.Lavelle and some times S.Mewes.  Does anyone know why  coach Andrownoski does not teach this to his midfielders ?

  5. Michael Maybury, April 11, 2021 at 9:38 a.m.

    Do not agree it was out the area. The first contact which was a foul was clearly in the area. Then even when she is fouled again is over the area and ball is in area. 

  6. frank schoon replied, April 11, 2021 at 10:36 a.m.

    Why bother even with lining or marking the penalty area and just sort of judge it willy-nilly. There is a reason why VAR has come about and it this case it  is so obvious for you can see it on the replay even that's it not a penalty

  7. Richard Beal, April 11, 2021 at 9:41 a.m.

    The team is too old.

  8. frank schoon, April 11, 2021 at 10:30 a.m.

    Wake-up call....now? Good Lord!, anybody with a brain should have seen this coming a few years ago... Vlatko stated, 'it wasn't good enough' ,totally misses the point. It wasn't good enough when we beat teams 6-0 ...PERIOD!!!! The coaches  lack a good insight into improving the quality of play/game and the players ,themselves certainly lack a sense self-criticism of their game... All you see is our "turbo bunnies" doing the high-five every time they score a goal beating an opponent 'gazillion to one' and the coaches ,likewise, although with a false sense of humility think they have done a good job.

    There is a total lack of Self-analysis and Criticism on both. All you get from them is 'we won' , 'we kicked butt', 'who is next'. And when they finally have a tough time of it, like against Sweden, the excuse is 'well we have to 'tweak' some things here and there'. They are missing the Total Picture. There is a lot more that needs to be worked on, here.

    There are Two ways of giving our 'Turbo Bunnies' a hard time of it and more importantly ACCENT OUR WEAKNESS.  One , that was seen when we played Spain, who kept ball-possession and a result they took us out of our game- NO BALL, NO TURBO, NO ATHLETICISM. Two, Sweden, took us out,  by NOT ALLOWING US TIME, NOT ALLOWING SPACE, and able to match our TOUGHNESS.  We are just lucky that we have some goal scoring capabilities to keep us afloat....

    Our FUNDAMENTAL WEAKNESS, our CORE is that INABILITY of handling the ball UNDER PRESSURE, which has no 'gender' attached it to it. The statement "It isn't good enough" ,has a lot more deeper implications, that is overlooked...

  9. Bob Ashpole replied, April 13, 2021 at 12:56 a.m.

    Frank, this problem was apparent 8 years ago. Another apparent problem was that the WNT could still win (and did win) in the last 2 cycles playing the same style that they have used since Anson Dorrance was coach. Changing an organization is always difficult, but near impossible with a successful organization.

    After the last win USSF was so opposed to any change that they took independent authority away from the WNT coach and then away from the WNT manager. Who is in charge now? The same people responsible for the failed MNT program. USSF has intentionally locked the USWNT into continuing to play the same style.

    The current coach was selected because USSF managers and many of the players were comfortable with him. "Comfortable" is not a necessary or even a desired trait in a head coach. 

  10. frank schoon replied, April 13, 2021 at 8:46 a.m.

    Bob, Those who run soccer don't know what good soccer is. Until there is a clamor raised in the soccer media by all sorts people who KNOW that we need to improve the game, no one will do anything. And besides they are making money and the WNT is successful, so why change.

    The problem is that the fans are not sophisticated enough to understand what is really going on, so the NT is able to rest on their laurels. They are happy the team wins. They don't even know how the bad women soccer standard of play is. As one former Ajax player, Arnold Muhren, who was once chosen English player of the year, stated that women's is comparable to 5th division men's Amateur ball and we call it here women's pro league.... There is a reason why Anson Dorrance stated he women's team won't practice against U16 boys.

    Women's soccer can be very nicely played and with a much more sophisticated style but then you're going to have to bring in coaches who have played the game in a technical sophisticated level. I would bring Brazilian coaches who have played for the BNT to bring to begin with nice ball techniques. 

  11. Bob Ashpole replied, April 13, 2021 at 2:59 p.m.

    The actual problem is that other nations, such as Spain, have already started. We are falling behind. All it takes is one country to have success against the US playing smart soccer and all the soccer countries would be copying the strategy.

  12. John Soares, April 11, 2021 at 1:13 p.m.

    Tuff crowd, 
    38 games undefeated, had a streak of 16 wins, 2 consecutive WC.
    One, admittedly poor performance.... against a very good team 
    And you want to send them all... coach included to the gallows.
    Ease up a bit:)

  13. :: SilverRey :: replied, April 11, 2021 at 2:59 p.m.

    Especially considering this is preseason for a decent amount of them

  14. R2 Dad replied, April 11, 2021 at 6:45 p.m.

    John, the problem is as Frank has stated--we've seen this coming for years now. The challenge and reward isn't in beating the dozens of weaker teams, it's that we have to beat the stronger ones and in that case we have not made progress with Vlatko. The players can change, but the "turbo bunny" filters remain. I think how Vlatko uses Macario will be telling. Does he want her up top in the Nuevo Abby beast mode 9, or as a playmaker 10? She could be either, but as it sits now the easiest path is the 9. Now that Lloyd got her 300th she needs to retire before the Olympics. Will Valtko have the huevos to do what needs to be done?

  15. James Madison, April 11, 2021 at 5:52 p.m.

    Anyone, including the USWNT, who wants a lesson in how to break through a defense inside the penalty area should watch MUnited's crisp one-touch passing this morning (4/11) against Spurs.

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