U.S. women fall for first time in group stage, will face Brazil in quarterfinals

U.S. Soccer Federation

The United States women's national team's smooth road in the FIFA Women's World Cup just got a whole lot bumpier.

Two defensive miscues turned into two first-half Sweden goals, and the United States fell in the group stage of the World Cup for the first time after a 2-1 loss to the European side in Wolfsburg, Germany. As a result, the Americans finished second in Group C and will be paired with Group D winner and powerhouse Brazil in the quarterfinals while group winner Sweden meets Australia.

After the United States fell behind, 2-0, Abby Wambach, who played 90 minutes despite battling Achilles tendonitis and sitting on a yellow card, pulled a goal back for the United States midway through the second half when a corner kick deflected off her shoulder.

That was not enough to offset Lisa Dahlkvist's 15th-minute penalty kick, which was granted after left back Amy LePeilbet committed a foul in the area.

LePeilbet was inadvertently at fault again for Sweden's second goal in the 35th minute, when Nila Fischer's free kick deflected off LePeilbet's leg and wrongfooted U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo before finding the back of the net.

The United States, which played without starting right winger Heather O'Reilly (groin), generated a number of chances but couldn't convert. Lauren Cheney missed inches to the left on a shot from outside the area and then fired just over the crossbar on another volley attempt. Amy Rodriguez had a chance hit the woodwork when her chip from the top of the area clipped the top of the crossbar.

The loss was the second U.S. one to Sweden this year. Sweden won by the same scoreline at the Four Nations Tournament in China back in January.

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What did you think of the match? What personnel moves would you have made? How much of a chance do you give the U.S. women at beating Brazil and advancing?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in 2011 Women's World Cup, U.S. Women's National Team. Bookmark the permalink.

61 Responses to U.S. women fall for first time in group stage, will face Brazil in quarterfinals

  1. Dune king says:

    Poor year for USA soccer, Gulati is bad luck and has no interest in improving the game, just improving the amount of money in his pocket.

  2. george says:

    what time is the next game??

  3. blah-zay says:

    They lacked sharpness for the majority of the game. From the start of the game I felt like they were playing not to lose, they didn’t exude a killer instinct. Their play reminded me of the USMNT, an inability to link more than 2-3 passes together. With that said, neither Sweden nor the US created many chances from the run of play. Horrid game to watch.

  4. RB says:

    How many national teams with overly conservative coaches and an inability to finish consistently does one country need?

  5. Christian says:

    LePeilbet unfortunately had a horrible showing in today’s game, even though the 2nd goal wasn’t her fault and 2nd half substitute O’Hara had a nightmare of a game as well. Julie Foudy commented on how this was a good substitution because of her pace, but unfortunately she looked like a deer in headlights and was unable to use her pace because she kept tripping herself up on the ball. She also had a nightmare of a volley late in the game that went off her shin. Hopefully the U.S. can show a bit more creativity in the final third, but their backline does need to play a lot better if they are going to hold Brazil’s attack.

  6. b says:

    Fire Bradley mid-tournament because the US lost a group stage game for the first time ever!!!

    Fire Gulati for not hiring a European coach!!!!

  7. b says:

    Zero dollars?

  8. blah-zay says:

    Haha. That’s great fire Bradley for the USWNT losing…

  9. Hopper says:

    LePeilbet shouldn’t play another minute in this tournament. She’s been a mistake machine in every game. She’s to this team what Jeff Agoos was to the 2002 men’s team.

    O’hara wasn’t much better when she came in for Rapinoe.

    Really though, all the USA needed to do was get more shots on target. Sweden’s keeper fumbled just about everything that came at her.

  10. b says:

    I think your sarcasm detector may be broken.

    The coach is European also, she even has her own stamp in Sweden, how can we possibly lose??

  11. Byron says:

    We found the USWNT Bornstein counterpart: Ohara

  12. CILII_blog says:

    The USA looked slow in the back line. I said when the roster came out, that there were too many players over the age of 30.
    I don’t see how USA will get past Brazil.

    Good Luck

  13. AL17 says:

    Have you actually watched our women play since Pia’s been coach?

    She’s the problem as our Nats coach.

    Bradley is fine as our Men’s Nats coach but Pia should have been canned after we beat Italia in the playoffs.

    Today’s result isn’t a surprise to me. I’m just glad it happened today as opposed to Saturday when I hope we do win but it could be a HUGE challenge. However, Brasil’s coach is also a knucklehead. Whichever team’s players decide to take matters into their own will win this match up. Simple as that.

  14. kenlynn says:

    Sunday 11am eastern

  15. Joe says:

    When we worked the ball in, we looked dangerous… so why did we stop doing that and go with the long feeds to nobody? Poor tactics, poor execution on the chances we had.

  16. Joe says:

    Anything that sends Bradley packing is good

  17. CA says:

    I concur.

  18. Disgusted says:

    Par for the course with US Soccer this summer. Look like you don’t care give up early goals and allow strikers to run right past you. And can we hire a coach at any level that doesn’t dress like they are on the way to the 7-Eleven for a gallon of milk.

  19. Shark says:

    He is not paid one cent…a volunteer position…now lets talk about your agenda…:)

  20. Christian says:

    Thanks CA! Glad you saw the game like I did today haha

  21. RB says:

    Generally agree but I think Brazil is the team this go around and will exact their revenge to Beijing this weekend.

  22. RB says:

    _for_ Beijing, that is (iPhone posting!)

  23. blah-zay says:

    I actually got the joke, that’s why I put “haha”. Pia Sundhage also has a history with Sweden. Maybe your sarcasm detector is broken… :)

  24. Christian says:

    I definitely agree in that our WNT looks like our MNT. Both teams play with a midfielder who disrupts the opposition’s attack, but offers very little going forward. Both teams play in a one or two touch, play the way you face kind of mentality. That’s fine if you’ve got some creativity to the way you move the ball around, but our play is so incredibly predictable. No creativity going forward, no one unafraid to dare to do the unexpected. Everything is focused on playing simple. Playing simple is fine to get yourself out of tight spaces, but once the field opens up, there needs to be some creativity and both teams do not offer that.

  25. Byron says:

    +1,000

  26. Mikey says:

    Damn that Bob Bradley!!!111one

  27. Hopper says:

    I feel like you replied to the wrong post as your comments had nothing to do with what I was talking about.

    And yes, I’ve watched the team plenty since Pia’s been coach.

  28. fanning out says:

    Actually the oldest player on the backline is the fastest, namely Rampone. Buehler and LePeilbet need to have a seat. I would be tempted to play Tobin Heath or Megan Rapinoe as a left back (as radical as that sounds) against Brazil.
    And put Sauerbrunn in the middle with Rampone!

    Pia was a great hire after the Greg Ryan fiasco in ’07. We were able to win the Olympics (which is a full national team tournament for the women unlike the men). It looked hopeful when we crushed a full Germany side 4-0 in Columbus in ’10. However, we have played the same rigid formation, 4-4-2 and it doesn’t fit some of the more creative players in our player pool (like Casey Nogueira and Lindsay Tarpley).

    Today I thought we should have played 4-5-1 and dropped off from the beginning. We only needed a tie to go through and Sweden was expecting us to come out and play so they would have been surprised. But no, it was the same 4-4-2. Very predictable. We need to evolve with the women’s game and learn how to change our formation as the game warrants.

    We really miss Lori Chalupny who is one of the best left backs in the world. Too bad US Soccer wouldn’t clear her to play, even though the WPS doctors would.

  29. john says:

    Christian: very accurate coments. i’d add boxx had a poor game too. and… is Tony DiCicco applying for the coaching job again? Unlike his comments suggested, as well as other announcers, Sweden didn’t really have THAT good of a game. We just didn’t finish our chances. Cheney should’ve had two, ARod his the bar. the only gripe i continue to have is rampone in the back… it was yet another blind/poor give-away by her that setup the 2nd goal – after they played the ball back in with us outta shape.

  30. fanning out says:

    Well, they got past Brazil in ’08 in the Olympic final after Brazil beat Germany 4-1 in the semi-final. The US can get by Brazil by playing compact and extremely organized soccer. It is certainly possible but they will have to contain Marta and Formiga.

    Brazil’s coach has been playing a deep sweeper up to this point. I wonder if they will come out like that against us?

  31. RNG says:

    And what is it with all the US teams and left backs?

  32. bobster says:

    I would much rather play Brazil in the Quarter-Final than the Final. They don’t play friendlies between major tournaments because their women have no funding from the Brazilian soccer federation so they often aren’t playing their best until late in tournaments.

    While we will have our work cut out for us with Brazil, Germany is clearly head and shoulders above any team in this tournament. I think on a good day we could beat Brazil, but I don’t think we can play with Germany.

  33. Christian says:

    Thanks John. I would say that Boxx played poor in the 1st half, but a bit better in the 2nd half. When things get late in the game and we’re behind, we need someone who can get the ball in the middle of the field and create. Boxx isn’t that player. She’s a “search and destroy” kind of player, but we need someone to get the ball and be dangerous with it going forward. Someone who can play a penetrating ball through the defense or play the unexpected ball. Everything from the U.S. is too predictable and Wambach is like a Ruud Van Nistlerooy type who can score goals, but needs to be set up in order to score, and we don’t have that playmaker in this tournament unfortunately.

  34. CÉU CARMESIM says:

    You’re absolutely right.

  35. Marcus says:

    Sounds like they’ve got USMNT-itis…maybe they caught it from Jermaine Jones on his return trip to Germany? (ha)

  36. Christian says:

    @RNG haha! I would like to see Chandler or Lichaj take the Left Back position and Cherundolo keep the Right Back spot until he’s lost his step. Then I’d like to see Chandler on one side and Lichaj on the other.

  37. c says:

    The USMNT was playing in the Gold Cup, a tournament filled with mediocre teams, and lost to Panama, which at the time was ranked by Fifa at 67 in the world. The USWNT is now playing in the World Cup against the best teams in the world. The USWNT won against North Korea, a good team, and clobbered Columbia, a not so good team. Sweden is ranked Number 5 in the world, so can’t really compare that loss to the Panama disaster. Go USWNT!!!!

  38. pd says:

    Blame Gulati time: 4 muniutes.

  39. pd says:

    So… Fire Bob Bradley?

  40. pd says:

    Pitchfork and torch time: 17 minutes. You know Pia Sundhage is the USWNT coach, right?

  41. b says:

    The USWNT is ranked #1 in the world, their expectations at the World Cup are far FAR higher than the USMNT at the World Cup. They are comparable to… the USMNT at the Gold Cup!

    The women barely even qualified for the WC despite being ranked #1! imagine if the happened to the men’s teams from Brazil, Germany, or Spain (who all have to qualify out of MUCH tougher federations).
    The women should have lost 3-1 today.
    USW vs Sweden is comparable to USM vs Panama (where the USM lost based on a penalty kick despite taking far more shots and missing a few
    sitters, sound familiar?)
    IF the USW lose to Brazil in the next round, they will have lost their group and then lost in the first elimination round, which is a worse result than the USM despite the massive difference in ranking (#1 vs 15-20 range for the men).
    IF the USW lose to Brazil in the next round, they will only have beaten North Korea and Colombia, two sorry women’s teams that are barely even comparable to a second tier CONCACAF men’s team. This is not the Colombian men, the women could only manage a 0-0 draw against North Korea when playing for their pride.
    The talent dropoff among women’s teams is far more steep than men’s, so this is more comparable to the men’s Gold Cup than World Cup.

  42. Christian says:

    pd: I wouldn’t say fire Bob Bradley. He’s doing what he can with what’s been given to him. What actually needs to be addressed is how our youth system is ran. youth coaches place a lot of importance on winning and tactics and it shows in our national teams. our national teams are very tactical, but offer very little in creativity and technical ability. what our youth needs are clubs that allow their players to play without fear. let the kids try to dribble 5 players, let them try and be inventive and creative without being yelled at for trying something new. hold training sessions where they need to find ways out of tight spaces and movement off the ball and when they get a bit older we can teach them more about tactics after they have developed the technical aspect of the game.

  43. Al17 says:

    You’re right and not sure how it ended up being a reply to yours, LOL

    that was a weird one.

  44. Ted in MN says:

    I’m going to play the optimist and say that Brazil must be tearing out its collective hair in frustration in that now it has to play the US. Also, LePeilbet is having a terrible tournament. In the 1st half of North Korea she got torched as well.

  45. Shane says:

    Plus all the money he helps generate pays for scholarships for poor kids to play on US soccer developmental academies which they otherwise couldnt afford to play for. Sorry dudes but soccer in the USA is not an easy ask, admit it, and admit that Sunil Gulati and Bob Bradley didnt make it that way. In addition fire Pia, who sucks, and hire Bob Bradley. His tactics would work in womens soccer.

  46. Shane says:

    Christian, my experience is limited to my geographical area and only about a dozen years but I have seen programs that run the gamit from playing-to-win to letting the kids be creative and figure it out for themselves. In the end after these kids become 18, the success of either program is fairly even so I believe there are strong arguments for different approaches. I favor a varied youth system. Let the MLS academies focus on letting the exceptional, creative players be themselves without the constraints of winning the match at 11 yrs old. But let the private clubs and academies do what they need to do to pay the bills, if thats winning the state tournament at U12 then so be it. There are some kids who in the long run are better off being taught what to do and how to play.

  47. Shane says:

    Everything you said was okay except that the the crushing of Germany occured in Cleveland. And the good folk of Cleveland are entirely responsible for the result, not Pia.

  48. buff111 says:

    Agree. Solo set up a wall and expected the players to maintain position. She didn’t, she bailed. Sometimes in this game, you have to take a ball to the gut. But she moved and that is not what Solo expected based on Solo’s positioning.

  49. Brad says:

    Even Bob would have known after the first game that Le Peilbet (sp?) can’t hang. She’s more of a liability than Bornstein back there…

  50. TimN says:

    I love it when people say things like, “They lack creativity in the final third.” Translation: “They lack ball touch and skill in the final third.”

    In a recent interview, Anson Dorrance said just that. He feels women’s soccer in general in the U.S. over the last several years has failed to develop more skilled players on the ball. We play WAY too much long ball, often entirely bypassing the midfield. We rely too much on athleticism and size. That used to work in the 1990’s when other countries hadn’t really developed the women’s game like we had. However, they’ve now caught up, and I would argue a few countries such as Germany and Brazil have passed us by in the technical skill arena. Dorrance also added that the women need to emulate the men’s game more, and look to the better men’s club teams in the world to develop coaching and training strategy. I think he’s spot on. I actually heard Alex Morgan in a recent interview leading up to this WWC state “We’re really going to look to spray it long and wide, then cross it back in for headers and volleys.” Again, in the 90’s that worked, but in the present day that mentality is arcane and will prove unsuccessful.

  51. Danny says:

    God Megan Rapinoe is SOOO hot!

  52. marco says:

    Some interesting comparisons between USMNT and USWNT. Both sides have big trouble at left back, Bornstein/LePeilbet. Both sides are very poor at finishing. Both sides downplayed earlier poor performances as unimportant.

  53. Dennis says:

    The issue is not so much coaching as the players who are athletic knowing that they can succeed by that alone. I know a few coaches among the national team youth coaches and they would agree with you regarding skill. These coaches complain (rightly from what I’ve seen) that the players they get into the various camps require way too much time doing remedial skill work. That despite the coaches and selectors doing their best to find skilled players capable of competing. At the national level, there is so much required to succeed, athleticism actually is an important one simply because it requires a great skill advantage (and similarly skilled teammates) to overcome size, speed and strength disadvantages in a competitive game. The problem is the most athletic players need to learn to be more skillful and to learn that, they need to be put in situations where their athleticism will not let them win despite sloppy play. At the youth level, I think this means having players compete in age groups or leagues where there athleticism is average so that theymust find other ways to excel.

    How that can be accomplished while most youth coaches want to retain their “stars” in order to win games is a tension that has not been settled.

  54. Joe says:

    And Dorrance should absolutely be listened to. He is the best we ever had and has won everywhere he’s been.

    We could see the truth in what he says today. The long ball produced nothing… short passing is where the chances came from. We just couldnt score. Our only goal was an accident that I’m not even sure Abby saw.

    Too bad USSF couldnt get Dorrance involved in some capacity… we need him … again

  55. Paul Thomas says:

    I feel it should be observed at this point that traditional powers France, Portugal and Argentina all had disastrous qualifying campaigns that came down to playoffs (or in Argentina’s case, scraping by Peru at the last instant), and Italy was a lucky late goal against Ireland from ending up in the same place.

    Of course, none of those teams did much of anything at the World Cup, and two were out-and-out disasters… so I suppose that’s not exactly reassuring.

  56. Paul Thomas says:

    She’s actually more appropriately compared to Bocanegra at LB, in that she is a good centerback who is woefully out of position on the flank.

  57. Firing Squad says:

    Fire Sunil Gulati!!!!

  58. biff says:

    Hi Bob. I don’t understand your logic that the Panamanian men’s team is comparable to the Swedish women’s team. Sweden is, indeed, ranked Number 5 in the world and North Korea is not a bad team as you incorrectly asserted, but ranked Number 8. Nonetheless, I agree with you 100% that the USWNT should have beat Sweden and that Pia Sundhage should be fired and replaced if she does not make the necessary adjustments to recover and beat Brazil to make it to the World Cup (not Gold Cup) Semi-final. I feel that Bob Bradley should be fired as soon as possible and replaced with a world-class foreign coach for failing to win the Gold Cup. And, actually, even if the USWNT beats Brazil, I think Sundhage should step down. It makes sense for a new coach to take over for a new WC cycle. Teams need a fresh face, a new perspective. We see with Bob Bradley what happens when a coach is kept on for a second WC cycle. The team has played poorly the past year. BB has lost the team, they don’t respect him anymore and they played poorly in the GC. Even when they won against global powerhouses like Guadeloupe, did not look so good. I fear that a BB-coached team will not qualify for WC2014.

  59. Stephen says:

    Actually, probably not, i would go more with LePeilbett.

  60. Stephen says:

    Because Brazil’s back line is pretty bad…

  61. john says:

    AL17: B.B. stays as MNT coach, P.S. canned? I think we’ve discovered the problem with American soccer… if you reflect others.

    The WNT is underperforming at this moment. But they had become a single-note team until P.S. turned it around. This is a globally held view in serious football/soccer circles.

    Whether or not her tenure continues is another matter (a coach needs to motivate the players — which is flagging right now). Sometimes changes are needed.

    It was 12 months ago, just 12 months, most – even in Europe – believed the U.S. were the clear front-runners for teh WWC. Three wins on the trot against Germany solidified that.

    The team seems to have peaked early (about a year early). But P.S. turned the whole program around. Right now, the players aren’t living up to their potential.