USWNT unbeaten streak ends in loss to Sweden, former coach Sundhage

Abby Wambach

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By CAITLIN MURRAY

A two-year unbeaten streak for U.S. Women’s National Team is over.

Sweden defeated the USWNT 1-0 at the Algarve Cup in Portugal Friday on a spectacular header from Lotta Schelin and a missed penalty kick from Abby Wambach.

It was coach Tom Sermanni’s first loss since taking the helm of the USWNT in January 2013. But perhaps even more stinging, the loss came at the hands of the coach he replaced, Sweden’s Pia Sundhage, who started the 43-game unbeaten streak.

In the 15th minute, forward Amy Rodriguez was taken down one-on-one, drawing a questionable penalty kick opportunity, but Wambach failed to convert. Her low, relaxed attempt was easily read by goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl, who stopped it near the post.

The No. 1-ranked USWNT came out with high pressure and successfully disrupted No. 6-ranked Sweden’s rhythm early on, but the breakthrough came in the 24th minute. A cross from the left side was met by Schelin, who shook off captain Christie Rampone running away from goal and headed it to the far corner.

Similar to Japan in the USWNT’s Algarve Cup opener two days earlier, Sweden fielded a full-strength squad of their best talent, including Schelin, a veteran who is coming off a particularly good award-winning 2013.

The pairing of Wambach and Rodriguez up top looked somewhat unprepared for Sweden’s pressure in a much more physical match than Wednesday’s. Alex Morgan is still recovering from an ankle injury and Sydney Leroux wasn’t feeling well, according to U.S. Soccer. Christen Press subbed on for Rodriguez in the 70th minute and Sarah Hagen earned her first cap replacing Wambach in the 81st.

Friday was the second time the USWNT played against Sundhage since she joined Sweden, last seeing her at the previous year’s Algarve Cup, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Sundhage finished her U.S. coaching career with a 88-6-10 record overall and had led the USWNT to a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics, winning all six matches in that campaign, before leaving at the end of 2012 to return to her native Sweden.

The USWNT continues their Algarve Cup run Monday, facing Denmark – but with the loss to Sweden, the Americans won’t make the final. The games are not being televised in the U.S.

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What do you think of the U.S. breaking their unbeaten streak? Will this change coach Tom Sermanni’s preparations for the 2015 Women’s World Cup?

Share your thoughts below.

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31 Responses to USWNT unbeaten streak ends in loss to Sweden, former coach Sundhage

  1. John says:

    The time has come to retire Abby Wambach.
    We many young new talent to replace her. Abby has to face reality.

    John

    • William the Terror says:

      Maybe we could transfer Jozy to the USWNT.

    • reality says:

      Hi Abby, your time is up baby.

    • KingGoogleyEye says:

      Wambach scored 11 goals in 14 appearances in 2013, 2 goals in 3 appearances in 2014. Why should she retire?

      And from the article: “Alex Morgan is still recovering from an ankle injury and Sydney Leroux wasn’t feeling well.”

  2. Sue says:

    I have to say sadly I agree. I think they should have played Heath in the midfield…..too much playing back to the defense….

  3. Bean says:

    Every streak comes to an end. I don’t see any reason to worry.

    • Duke says:

      Not sure if you watched the game or not but there is a lot to worry about. One goal in two games, two allowed. Abby missed a PK and is clearly too heavy and too slow for todays game. Finally, Tom waited too long to make adjustments and even though we had the lions share of chances…. no goals

      Tom was simply schooled by Pia. She knew how to shut us down and did it. He had no answer despite having more talent

      • Bean says:

        I could not watch the game.

        It comes as no surprise that Pia could school Tom. It’s her old team, and Sweden is a good side. I’ll be worried if they lose again, but their record speaks for itself.

      • aaron says:

        there really isn’t anything to worry about. It was the smack in the face they needed. Still a year and tad out from the wc. Everything will be just fine.

  4. WSG says:

    While it always stings to watch my team lose, it is the best thing that could’ve happened at this tournament. They needed to realize that there are teams that will punish them for not playing at their best effort. It’s a dangerous mentality to just think, “We’ll find a way to win because we are the USWNT!” without putting the effort to make it happen. The team did not seem to play with the fire we’re so used to seeing in meaningful games.

    It is also the best thing that could happen to Tom. He needs to experience what it’s like to lose with this team so he knows how to handle the his players after these situations. A winning streak is worth nothing if you lose the games that matter. It’s better he and the team experience losing now rather than during qualifiers.

    Losing to Sweden specifically was also good for us. Obviously Pia knew and exploited American weaknesses and the loss highlighted those deficiences. Now, we have a few more games to work on fixing those, hopefully with players who are fired up to prove this was a one-off.

  5. The Garrincha says:

    NO need for knee jerk reactions, that being said alarm bells are going off.
    Trying to respectfully break it down.
    Perhaps it is time to look at Wambach as a super sub/Joker type.
    She still has a lot to offer but perhaps in the second half when the defense is tired
    and then her size and strength is truly an imposing mismatch.
    Rampone, is the next in line she has performed at such a high level for so long
    we may forget time has relegated her to less than her former physical self.
    (quicker stronger forward outpaced and muscled her for the goal).
    However she still has much wisdom
    and leadership to offer maybe just not as a full time starter.
    A rod is pretty much what you are going to get.
    The attacking play needs to go all out and this will happen when
    the USWNT decides to field the most skilled and athletically gifted players
    regardless of former positions and tendencies.

    • KingGoogleyEye says:

      Who would you have had Wambach “super sub” for in this match? Neither Morgan nor Leroux were available.

      • The Garrincha says:

        IMO, there are several forward/attacking mid types some were not even called in like Tymrak, Horan, Ohai etc(error in player personel?), or this was a last look at a few retreads.
        Wambach excels in the air particularly on set pieces/corners and in the box. she does not have the legs to go a full 90 particularly given the evolution the USWNT is going through.
        Best way to play AW is with four or five skilled forward/attacking mid type players. A rod is not this type of player if you get my drift.
        That said, I would like to see AW as a super sub, because that is where I believe she would have the greatest impact and it would conceivably lengthen her playing career, meaning I would love to see her have one last real shot at a world cup. But realistically for the good of the team AW may need to take a little bit of a back seat to make that happen.
        If you like I would submit a depth chart for you.

  6. RB says:

    Have to agree that losses like this prior to much bigger things can be quite good and important. I’m always much more comfortable (whatever the sport is) if I see my team drop one not long before the real serious actions gets underway. Dunno that there is an equivalent example of a team that’s so dominant in its realm as the USWNT has been, but all teams—they included—cannot lose sight of the fact that they can in fact lose.

    I sat in the stands, incredulous, watching them lose to Mexico in WC qualifying 4 years ago in Cancun. They ended up losing the WC final only on PKs at the end of that road. This I think will just be seen in a similar light, in time.

    • The Garrincha says:

      I would agree with you but concacaf offers no real measuring stick,
      Algarve cup yes.
      Canada delights in a perceived rivalry, which is more of a maple leaf grudge.
      Was really hoping USWNT would get to play Germany, not happening now.
      So to refresh a tie to Japan and a loss to Sweden. We are talking about the FIFA #!1 for the past decade, a lot of gold no world cup, and it is fast time the team takes it to the next level. This means every position has skills and is a threat.
      No more one dimensional players.

      • RB says:

        “I would agree with you but concacaf offers no real measuring stick,
        Algarve cup yes.”

        Well yes and no. I mean, it offers much less of a measuring stick if you’re winning, but of course we lost that CONCACAF match. Losing to Mexico and losing in that key qualifying match—a loss that meant we had to win the play-in series against Italy even just to get to go to Germany—was considerably worse than tying Japan or losing to Sweden by a goal (what’s more, under flukey circumstances, with Wambach missing the PK).

        Even the unusual situation of Sundhage knowing the US team fairly well inside and out argues that one should not make as much out of this loss as might otherwise seem appropriate.

        Incidentally, didn’t we also lose the opening match of the Beijing Olympics (to Norway, if memory serves)? And we also came back to win that tournament.

        Not saying I want the team to write off these last results and pretend nothing’s wrong or there’s nowhere to improve! Rather it just sounds to me like what happens with the reactions on the USMNT side of things, too: a lot of what Ives referred to on the podcast as “chicken little” type of stuff. Think getting all too upset here is unwarranted, still.

        • The Garrincha says:

          Not upset, just know they can play far better than this and that they have far more talent than shown. just want to see the best product available.
          However please do not play to mine or any other supporters perceived ignorance. Please don’t sell me Mexico, there is no comparison to their level and depth of talent. The team should be rocking Mex, like they did Russia just about every time.(sure there is a fluke here and there, but USWNT has the skill and ability to over ride this. at least that should be a goal).
          Furthermore I am not panicked about either the men or women’s teams. No Chicken little here, in fact until supporters start to get a little more passionate, people in the system may think they can take it easy because US fans are complacent pushovers and don’t know the game, etc.
          I want AW and the team as all fans do to get that cup, and if it means trimming the fat and bringing in the new to do it then so be it.

          • RB says:

            “However please do not play to mine or any other supporters perceived ignorance. Please don’t sell me Mexico, there is no comparison to their level and depth of talent. The team should be rocking Mex, like they did Russia just about every time…”

            You’re misunderstanding me, taking what I’m saying to be the exact opposite. I’m not implying anyone’s ignorance on any of this. I _agree_ that we should be rocking Mexico every time. What I’m saying is that therefore, the fact that we _lost_ to Mexico on that occasion is _more_ significant than the fact that we might recently have only tied reigning WC champions Japan, or have lost a flukey game to a power like Sweden.

            But nevertheless, we came back after that stunning loss to Mexico and went on all the way to the following WC final match, where we were only beaten on PKs. (Much like we lost the opening match of the Beijing Olympics to Norway but nevertheless went on to win that tournament.) Thus by comparison there is not a great need to be overly worried by these more recent results.

            Hope that helps.

            • The Garrincha says:

              Appreciate the sentiments RB.
              My only real concern is that it is painfully obvious that this is not the most talented team the USWNT can put out, I understand they are still figuring it all out, or pulling punches. but they lost out on the best measuring stick and that would have been to compete against Germany.
              A little inside info Germany team and nation truly delighted in the US chocking away the Cup. They were visibly rooting against, because they know in the soccer world only the world cup truly matters.

  7. Rock in the face says:

    If Arod is playing, she’s likely just getting back into form – she missed the NWSL season having her first child this last year. Hard to comment on a game that I didn’t see tho.

  8. Turd Bradley says:

    Abby Wambach alone makes the USWNT unwatchable. She is and always has been just so so bad.

  9. Beast says:

    We played a top team without 4 of our Key players, Morgan, Syd, Lauren, & Heath. Also I recovering O’hara and we still out played them and lost 1-0. I think it is a little early to panic. I do think we need to find more a true CDM for when we play some of these tougher teams.

    • The Garrincha says:

      Beast as your name suggests They have the firepower, what’s frustrating is they have not unleashed it yet. The team has the depth and talent to just take it to teams for 90 relentless minutes and they seam to tinker around with less than half of what they got in the arsenal.

  10. Dan says:

    Yes, give Jozy (Lazy) Altidore to the USWNT, that way we (USMNT) can finally be rid of that slow, lumbering lug. and Get Aaron Johansson to start for USMNT, and give him more minutes!!!! That would be wonderful. !!!

  11. Lynn says:

    Good conversation. I only followed the game via Twitter, but my first reaction (after being bummed) was to think this ^was^ hopefully just the wakeup call needed. 1 goal in two games is a subpar effort, but it’s a little early to give up on a team with this much talent. I’d much rather lose now and work out the kinks then get stunned in WC play. I think Abby knows her career is winding down, and I’m not sure I think she should start, but I sure want her in the game near the end, when it may be decided by instinct and experience, not swiftness.

    • The Garrincha says:

      With you there Lynn. AW is a must for next WC, (I liken her situation to that of Klose. No way he doesn’t make the Mannschaft, I also believe he will play no more than half the total amount of match minutes in the first round of the WC)
      I know it’s scary for some who have enjoyed the status quo, but the reality is is that with the depth that is finally coming to maturity it’s about time to relieve a few players who just don’t cut it anymore.

  12. The Garrincha says:

    To much tissue not enough substance.
    The Garrinchas top defenders in the world as of next world cup. no particular order.
    Bucannon, Canada, Fischer, Sweden, Elin Rubensson, Sweden,(O’reilly just got a good dose of her)
    Meier,Germany, Kronn Germany(good player but you have to take it to her, she’s a flopping foul machine), and that six foot something sister from France.

    The half a dozen or so USWNT players that are equal to them in their varied skill and ability are
    Krieger, Sauerbrunn, O’hara, K. Mewis, Dunn, Engen? and (Rampone, is an all time great nearing the end of an amazing career, hope she gets to 300 caps and beyond).