(China) The United States women's soccer team defeated Sweden 2-0 on Friday with Mercy grad Abbvy Wambach leading the way by netting both U.S. goals. The top U.S. striker has three goals in two World Cup games despite playing with an injured toe and stitches in her head.
Wambach converted a penalty in the 34th, and scored a textbook goal in the 58th, settling a long ball on her chest and then driving a 15-yard left-footed shot behind Sweden keeper Hedvig Lindahl.
Wambach has scored 80 goals in 98 games for the U.S. national team, which is seeking its third World Cup to go with titles in '91 and '99.
The victory puts the No. 1-ranked United States in a good position to reach the quarterfinals following an opening 2-2 draw with North Korea in Group B, the toughest group of the 16-team tournament.
The Americans, who are undefeated in 48 games in 2½ years under coach Greg Ryan, face Nigeria on Tuesday in Shanghai in the final Group B game. Sweden faces North Korea on Tuesday in Tianjin. The top two teams in the group advance to the quarterfinals.
The Americans have four points in two games. No. 3-ranked Sweden has one from a 1-1 draw with Nigeria and is in danger of missing the final eight.
After being pressed hard for much of the early game in southwestern China, the Americans took control after Wambach's penalty on a sunny day, much different than the rainy opener.
Defender Kate Markgraf started the first scoring play, sending in a long, soaring ball that bounced and was misjudged by Sweden keeper Lindahl. Racing to put the loose ball home, American midfielder Lori Chalupny was taken down in the area by Swedish defender Stina Segerstrom.
Though it wasn't a clear-cut penalty, the goal gave the Americans energy they lacked in the first 20 minutes when Sweden controlled play and had four corners in the first four minutes.
Just 14 seconds into the game, Sweden's top striker Hanna Ljungberg headed just wide of an open goal.
The Americans began to settle after 20 minutes. Defender Cat Whitehill sailed a long shot that Lindahl jumped to tip over the bar in the 21st. In the 22nd, Kristine Lilly rifled in another long ball that Lindahl scramble to stop.
Wambach, Chalupny and Carli Lloyd tested Lindahl as the Americans began to control more possession. The penalty bolstered their confidence with Lloyd, Wambach and Lilly attacking more aggressively.
Striker Victoria Svensson was Sweden's biggest threat in the first half. In 29th she shot just over the crossbar, and in the 32nd her free kick sailed just high.
The U.S. outshot Sweden 9-4 in the first half, and was up 6-0 in shots on goal.
Wambach's second-half goal seemed to deflate Sweden, which is now heading for an early exit. The Swedes have won only three of 23 games with the United States. The U.S. has won 15 with five ending in draws.
Svensson was the most troubling player in the second half, too. In the 79th, American keeper leaped to bat her long shot over the crossbar, and moments later Ljungberg missed from close range in one of Sweden's last gasps to get back into the game.
The United States opened with two changes from opening draw with North Korea. Leslie Osborne came in for Shannon Boxx in the holding midfield position, and Lindsay Tarpley replaced Heather O'Reilly at forward.