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U.S. Women Fall 2-1 to Sweden in Opening Game of 2011 at Four Nations Tournament in China

  • Carli Lloyd Scores in 11th Minute, But Sweden Comes From Behind to Score in Both Halves 
  • Young Forward Sydney Leroux Earns First Cap Off the Bench 
  • USA Faces Canada on Sunday, Jan. 23 at 6:05 a.m. ET, Fans Can Follow the Match Live @ussoccer_wnt on Twitter

CHONGQING, China (Jan. 21, 2011) – In a clash between two of the world’s top teams, the U.S. Women’s National Team lost its first game of the year and opening match of the Four Nations Tournament 2-1 to Sweden on a cold afternoon at the Yongchuan Sports Centre Stadium.

U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd headed home a corner kick in the 11th minute, but Swedish defender Stina Segerstrom answered back six minutes later with an equalizer, also off a corner. Midfielder Kosovare Asllani, who played for the Chicago Red Stars in WPS last season, tallied the winning goal for Sweden with about 30 minutes remaining.

“Our speed of play wasn’t good enough,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. “One thing as a team that we need to get much better at is moving without the ball. This game today tells us many things that we need to work on, but I am confident that we have enough time and enough games to prepare for the World Cup. This was just the first one.”

The U.S. team played with better rhythm that it displayed in the latter matches of 2010, and perhaps had more possession than the Swedes, but the attack broke down too often allowing the Europeans to repeatedly unleash dangerous counters which put pressure on the U.S. backline throughout the game. The U.S. also struggled to create chances in the attacking third and put just four shots on goal. In a rare occurrence, the USA was out-shot as Sweden accrued 11 total shots to the USA’s seven.

Both teams had chances inside of the first three minutes, the first coming from Amy Rodriguez who had a moment’s look at the goal from deep inside the penalty area, but couldn’t turn the ball on frame. Sweden came right down the field on the first of many counters but a scrambling defensive effort forced Josefine Oqvist too wide for a shot. Forced into her second option, her pass into the middle was cleared by U.S. captain Christie Rampone.

The USA took the lead on its first corner kick of the game as Megan Rapinoe struck a beautifully driven ball to the near post that was flicked on by Lauren Cheney to Lloyd, who powered a header into the upper corner from five years out. It was Lloyd’s 23rd international goal.

Sweden tied the game about five minutes later off a corner kick by Therese Sjogran from the right side. Somehow the ball evaded a pack of U.S. defenders and skidded through the penalty area on the ground to Segerstrom, who had time to collect and turn before striking a low shot from 16 yards out into the lower left corner.

A key moment in the match occurred in the 36th minute as hesitation by Sweden’s two center-backs allowed a pass to slip behind the defensive line to Rodriguez, who raced in uncontested on a breakaway. Rodriguez’ final touch betrayed her however, and she couldn’t get off a shot as the ball rolled into the arms of Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl.

Sjogran was her usual menacing presence down the left flank and her attacking earned the majority of Sweden’s nine corner kicks. Oqvist, who scored two goals the last time Sweden beat the USA in regulation time in 2004, was often at the point of Sweden’s counters. Just one minute into the second half she burst free into the left side of the penalty area, but shot wide right from a sharp angle.

The winning goal actually came from the right side as Lina Nilsson played a ball on the ground into the penalty area. Asllani somehow dug it out of a pack of players and deposited her shot into the lower left corner from about 10 yards away.

Sundhage changed out her center midfield at halftime, replacing Shannon Boxx with Yael Averbuch and Carli Lloyd with Lori Lindsey, and until Sweden’s goal, the U.S. looked to be in control of the match.

Rapinoe was perhaps the USA’s most dangerous player, getting a good look at goal in the 50th minute before spinning her shot wide left of the goal from the left side of the penalty area. Less than a minute later, her cross from the left wing almost fell inside the far post, but no U.S. player was there to finish.

The USA buzzed around Sweden’s penalty box during the last 20 minutes with 71st minute substitute Tobin Heath giving her team an attacking spark, but with Sweden protecting its lead well, the Americans couldn’t get a clean strike on goal.

In the 80th minute, off another counter, U.S. goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart had to make a fine save on Madelaine Edlund’s shot, diving to her right to palm it away for a corner kick. Besides the goals, it was the only shot that truly troubled Barnhart on the night.

The USA had its best chance for an equalizer in the 84th minute after corner kick led to a scramble inside Sweden’s penalty box. Rampone's on-frame volley was deflected by a mass of players, but it bounced to Lindsey who had a chance to poke it in from close range yet somehow Lindhal came out with the ball.

Twenty-year-old forward Sydney Leroux, the USA’s all-time leading scorer in FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup competition, earned her first cap with the senior team when she came on in the 86th minute for a final push. Twenty-one year old striker Alex Morgan, the top pick in the 2011 WPS Draft, entered the game in the 72nd minute for Rodriguez and put some pressure on the Sweden back line with her running down the left wing.

Both nations played without their top attackers. The USA’s leading scorer Abby Wambach is recovering from a minor injury while Sweden’s Lotta Schelin is playing club soccer in France.

The match marked just the seventh time since the end of the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup that the U.S. women have lost a match in which they have taken a lead. The USA had not lost a match in which it took a lead in more than seven years.

The match marked the first meeting of the year between the USA and Sweden, who will meet on July 6 in Wolfsburg during Group C play at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. The teams could also meet at the Algarve Cup in Portugal in March. The victory was Sweden’s fourth ever against the USA against 18 losses and six ties.

The 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup will take place from June 26-July 17 in nine venues across Germany: Berlin, Frankfurt, Mönchengladbach, Sinsheim, Wolfsburg, Augsburg, Bochum, Dresden and Leverkusen.

The 16 nations competing are: host Germany, Korea DPR, Japan and Australia from Asia and Sweden, Norway, France and England from Europe, New Zealand from Oceania, the USA, Canada and Mexico from CONCACAF, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea from Africa and Brazil and Colombia from South America.

- U.S. Women's National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Sweden
Date: Jan. 21, 2011
Competition: 2011 Four Nations Tournament
Venue: Yongchuan Sports Centre Stadium; Chongqing, China
Kickoff: 3:35 p.m. local / 2:35 a.m. ET
Attendance: 16,000
Weather: Cold, haze – 40 degrees

Scoring Summary:  1  2  F
USA                         1  0  1
SWE                         1  1  2

USA – Carli Lloyd (Lauren Cheney)                 11th minute
SWE -- Stina Segerström (Therese Sjögran)     16
SWE – Kosovare Asllani (Lina Nilsson)             61

USA: 18-Nicole Barnhart; 2-Heather Mitts, 6-Amy LePeilbet, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 19-Rachel Buehler; 9-Heather O’Reilly (26-Sydney Leroux, 86), 7-Shannon Boxx (4-Yael Averbuch, 46), 10-Carli Lloyd (16-Lori Lindsey, 46), 15-Megan Rapinoe (11-Tobin Heath, 71); 12-Lauren Cheney, 8-Amy Rodriguez (13-Alex Morgan, 72)
Subs not used: 14-Stephanie Cox, 21-Kelley O’Hara, 22-Becky Sauerbrunn, 24-Ashlyn Harris
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage

SWE: 1-Hedvig Lindahl; 13-Lina Nilsson, 2-Charlotte Rohlin (capt.), 3-Stina Segerström, 4-Annica Svensson; 10-Kosovare Asllani (19-Johanna Almgren, 61), 17-Lisa Dahlkvist (18-Louise Fors, 78), 16-Linda Forsberg (6-Linda Sembrant, 81), 15-Therese Sjögran; 9-Antonia Göransson (5-Marie Hammarström, 62), 14-Josefine Öqvist (8-Madelaine Edlund, 73)
Subs not used: 12-Kristin Hammarström, 20-Johanna Frisk, 31-Tilda Heimerson
Head Coach: Thomas Dennerby

Statistical Summary: USA / SWE
Shots: 7 / 12
Shots on Goal: 4 / 8
Saves: 6 / 2
Corner Kicks: 6 / 9
Fouls: 6 / 9
Offside: 3 / 6

Misconduct Summary:

Referee: Qin Liang (CHN)               
Assistant Referee 1: Zhang Lingling (CHN)
Assistant Referee 2: Wu Chun (CHN )
Fourth Official: He Jin (CHN) Woman of the Match:
Rachel Buehler