On Thursday, June 19, the United States Women’s National Team will conclude the group stage rounds of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup by playing against their biggest rival, Sweden. The results of this matchup will not only determine which teams is named the winner of Group F, but it will set the playing field as to whether or not Sweden poses a real threat to trample the USWMNT‘s journey to the World Cup Finale.
Kicking off at 3 p.m. ET from Le Havre, France, this will be the sixth time Sweden has faced America’s team on the World Cup stage, with the USWMNT holding a 3-1-1 advantage. In 2011, they lost to Sweden 2-1, and in 2015, there was a 0-0 draw. Currently, the USWNT sits in first over Sweden thanks to a massive lead in the goal differential tiebreaker from their win 13-0 win over Chile.
Ninth-ranked Sweden is also having a great run so far at this year’s Cup. They defeated Chile 2-0 and Thailand 5-1, but because they’ve only scored seven goals to the U.S.’s 16, they need to beat the USWNT in order to place themselves in first.
Midfielder Julie Ertz told ESPN, “I don’t necessarily think of the World Cup as often as I do the Olympics. I know this is the World Cup, so a lot of people ask about the last World Cup. But the last World Cup wasn’t the most recent tournament. For me, if anything, I have a bitter taste in my mouth because the last thing I remember is losing to Sweden.”
U.S. Lost to Sweden in the 2016 Olympics Quarter-Finals
The main reason there’s so much hype and worry surrounding this prime time group matchup, these are two of the Top 10 teams in the world, and no one has forgotten the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil, in which Sweden knocked the USWNT out of contention during the quarter-finals. Since women’s soccer went global in 1991, this was the earliest the USWNT had ever been knocked out of international competition.
It was a heartbreaker of a game for the U.S. team. The match went through two overtime periods and was ultimately decided by penalty kicks. The USWNT currently has 15 players from their 2016 Rio squad.
“Despite the fact it’s been three years, you don’t forget the taste in your mouth when you fail,” said USWNT forward Christen Press. “There is a little bit of that that will definitely act as motivation. You play to never have that feeling again.”
USA & Sweden Have Already Advanced to the Next Round
Both Sweden and the U.S. move on to the knockout round regardless of the outcome. The Group F winner will play either Canada or the Netherlands in the round of 16, and then will like face the German team in the quarterfinals.
If the U.S. wins Group F, they would play the Group B second place team on Monday, June 24 at 12 p.m. ET. If the U.S. finishes second place, they will also play on Monday, June 24, but at 3 p.m. ET.