United States, Sweden play to scoreless draw in heavyweight Group D clash

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­WINNIPEG, Manitoba – It was always going to be a war of attrition between two coaches and two teams who know each other so well.

So it’s only fitting that Sweden and the United States would play to a choppy, 0-0 draw as they did on Friday at Winnipeg Stadium in group play at the 2015 Women’s World Cup. With the draw, the U.S. remains atop Group D with 4 pts. after defeating Australia on Monday. Sweden played to a second consecutive draw.

All the focus coming into the match was on Sweden coach Pia Sundhage – who coached the Americans to two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup final in her time in charge from 2008-2012 – and her familiarity with the U.S.

Neither Sundhage nor her counterpart and former assistant, U.S. coach Jill Ellis, tried to pull any surprises, lining up in nearly identical 4-4-2 formations and giving each other little room to breathe.

“If you look at the personalities that they do have, and the depth that they have on the [U.S.] team, they can come up with different kind of games,” Sundhage said. “Today we saw a battle and a tactical game, I think.”

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Sweden had the best chance of the match in the 77th minute, when midfielder Caroline Seger shot the ball to the back post, only to find U.S. defender Meghan Klingenberg there to clear it off the line with her head. Klingenberg made just enough contact to redirect the shot off the crossbar and out of the goalmouth.

“This is something that we’ve been practicing all week and I know that when Hope (Solo) slides across that I need to slide in and make sure that I’m covering the line, because I’m her far side, and that’s what I did. Luckily I got my head on it and it went out,” Klingenberg said.

Abby Wambach came off the bench in the 68th minute and four minutes later her lunging header was tipped over the bar by Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl after Wambach’s header bounced off the artificial turf and up above Lindahl’s head.

U.S. defenders Becky Sauerbrunn and Julie Johnston clamped down on Swedish striker Lotta Schelin. Sauerbrunn tracked back to potentially save a goal in the 63rd minute, recovering to intercept Schelin’s square ball for Therese Sjogran. Schelin and Sjogran had a 2-v-1 with Johnston before Sauerbrunn recovered.

Sweden came out on the front foot and looked to have a half-chance in the 20th minute when Lotta Schelin got endline around Meghan Klingenberg, but her teasing cross that went over Hope Solo’s head found no teammates at the back post.

Seger had the best chance of the half and a rightful shout for a penalty kick in the 22nd minute. Lina Nilsson’s ball into the box deflected out to Seger, whose shot from 15 yards struck the extended elbow of Sydney Leroux, but referee Sachiko Yamagishi did not blow her whistle despite protest from the Swedes.

Sweden gave the U.S. space in wide areas throughout the first half, but the most the Americans could muster was a tame effort by Ali Krieger in the 34th minute after Christen Press’ scoop pass played her in behind.

Earlier in the day, Australia beat Nigeria, 2-0. Nigeria sits bottom of the group with 1 point, while Sweden sits third with 2 pts. through two matches.

Each team will round out group play on Tuesday, the United States against Nigeria in Vancouver and Sweden against Australia in Edmonton.