Mar 11, 2013, 5:21 PM EDT
It was a tale of two halves in Lagos, appropriate given who was on the opposing bench. Under Pia Sundhage, the U.S. Women’s National Team garnered a reputation for late match theatrics, and while the same level of drama wasn’t required in Monday, the U.S. were still forced to come from behind against their former coach.
Pulling back a fourth minute goal from Sweden’s Lisa Dahlkvist, Alex Morgan secured the U.S.’s spot in the Algarve Cup final, heading home a 56th minute corner kick from Megan Rapinoe. The 1-1 draw gave the U.S. first place in Group B and a spot in Wednesday’s tournament final against Germany.
That’s the good news. A more critical eye would point to the first blemishes of the U.S.’s tournament. Dahlkvist’s score was the States’ first goal allowed in three games, an ignominious start to goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris’s senior team career. Though the Washington Spirit keeper did well to come out and thwart Swedish star Lotta Schelin, her goal was left unattended as Dahlkvist one-timed the opener from near the center circle.
With the lead, the Swedes frustrated the Americans through halftime, their physical play perhaps leveraging knowledge Sunhage accumulated during five years on the U.S. bench. Against a Swedish side that had drew earlier in the tournament with China (a team the U.S. defeated 5-0 on Friday), it was a disappointing start for the world’s No. 1 team.
But the U.S. recovered in the second half. Morgan’s equalizer gave the States over half an hour to chase a second goal, with Rapinoe coming close to a second in the 88th minute.
Ultimately, the U.S. outshot their former coach’s team 18-5 and put six shots on goal to Sweden’s two. True, they’re the type of numbers you’d expect when an underdog takes an early lead against a favorite, but they’re also indicators that if this match were played again, the U.S. might get a better result.
That doesn’t mean the draw wasn’t discouraging. The U.S. stumbled, and they did so in way that feeds into common complaints. Whether criticism that chasing matches will eventually catch up to the U.S. is well-grounded or not, their recent history of falling behind in games and relying on comebacks leads some to ask when the U.S.’s luck will run out.
But Monday’s wasn’t a big game. It was a group stage match at a low point in the game’s four-year cycle. With the stakes so low, there’s little evidence to bolster any criticisms, and with the World Cup more than two years away, there are only so games where the U.S.’s results will lead to solid conclusions.
Wednesday’s may be one of those games, with the States facing world No. 2 Germany in the tournament final. It’s the first of two games between the rivals in less than a month, with the teams set to meet in Offenbach on April 5.
Currently the game’s best international soccer rivalry, a U.S.-Germany match for the Algarve Cup title should provide the stakes today’s match lacked. While the teams have played recently, drawing two U.S.-based friendlies in October, Wednesday match will likely feature a level of intensity last fall’s matches lacked.
If the U.S.’s problems resurface against Germany, then it’s time to talk. But against a team whose coach has an intimate knowledges of the U.S.’s strengths and weaknesses, a draw with Sundhage’s Sweden can be written off.
May 22, 2013, 6:02 PM EDT
Cristiano Ronaldo will serve a two-match ban. José Mourinho will skirt it.
May 22, 2013, 5:26 PM EDT
Michele Beadle and friends take a look at what NYCFC means to the New York sports scene.
May 22, 2013, 4:44 PM EDT
We tend to beat up the Chivas organization for its off-the-wall strategic approaches and front-office instability, but what exactly is wrong with the team on the field?
May 22, 2013, 4:03 PM EDT
Yesterday’s announcement included few surprises after of the U.S.’s June 2 match at BMO Field.
May 22, 2013, 3:18 PM EDT
Well, what took them so long to get into the party?
May 22, 2013, 2:40 PM EDT
Looks like a mixed bag for the American trio:
May 22, 2013, 2:05 PM EDT
As the towering English forward weighs up his options, should he return to Liverpool, sign for West Ham or go elsewhere?
May 22, 2013, 1:40 PM EDT
With Dortmund’s main attacker threat out injured, can Dortmund still lift the Champions League trophy?
May 22, 2013, 1:15 PM EDT
Can the Yankees provide a viable option for New York City FC to play in? Of course they can. Maybe.
May 22, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT
They have owners and an employee, but now comes the hardest part for MLS expansion club NYCFC. The challenges ahead are daunting:
May 22, 2013, 12:21 PM EDT
The one accolade no EPL player wants on their soccer resume…
May 22, 2013, 11:05 AM EDT
New York City FC announces Reyna as first employee, a good first move, right?
May 22, 2013, 10:06 AM EDT
Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, Red Bull Arena… which venue could work best as a temporary home for New York City FC?
May 22, 2013, 8:54 AM EDT
The magic of the Cup lives on, as four PDL sides now face trips to MLS teams in the third-round. Is this the stuff dreams are made of?
May 22, 2013, 8:19 AM EDT
Pulis joins long list of EPL managers departing… is English soccer becoming more ruthless?
May 21, 2013, 8:02 PM EDT
Wait a minute … didn’t MLS commissioner Don Garber say there “is no Plan B …” beyond the Queens location?
May 21, 2013, 6:40 PM EDT
Well, phooey! Didn’t Dempsey just go through a summer of transfer instability?
May 21, 2013, 4:50 PM EDT
This and that as the U.S. contingent preps to gather in Cleveland ahead of five matches over the next few weeks:
May 21, 2013, 4:10 PM EDT
The updated ordering in ProSoccerTalk’s ranking of Major League Soccer teams following 12 rounds of play:
- Looking at the United States’ roster ahead of their Canada rematch 0
- A stadium for New York City FC – tougher than you think 6
- Claudio Reyna announced as New York City FC Director of Football 0
- Possible temporary homes for New York City FC 8
- Another EPL manager goes, as Tony Pulis leaves Stoke City 4
- Bigger impact on U.S. soccer growth: David Beckham or Pele? (35)
- It’s official: Manchester City and the Yankees will own and operate Major League Soccer’s newest expansion team. (35)
- Why MLS was so focused on New York as the 20th market (15)
- Notes from today’s big announcement on MLS, NYCFC the Yankees and the rest (14)
- Portland ball kid correct to deny Mario de Luna (12)
- Tiger calls Sergio's comments inappropriate, hurtful
- Bears great Urlacher announces retirement
- PBT: Rugged Pacers hope to slow high-flying Heat
- Posnanski on Golf: Sergio shows disdain for Tiger
- OlyTalk: Coach K will lead Team USA in Rio Games
- PFT: Crabtree tears achilles, out six months
- PHT: Canucks reportedly fire Vigneault, assistants