The United States last saw Sweden when they were beating them 3-2 in a friendly in Columbus in 2019. Prior to that, they beat Sweden 2-0 in the group stage of the 2019 World Cup in Le Havre. And before that they beat them 1-0 in their own country in Gothenburg in 2017. So perhaps any narratives about lingering tension from that time Sweden ignominiously booted the United States from the Olympics are well and truly over. Of course, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a competitive game; you don’t haul a whole team over to Europe during COVID just to enjoy a relaxed friendly. There’s serious Olympic slots on the line with just one more FIFA window after this before things kick off in Japan, although USSF may be pulling players outside of the window to prepare.
Looking at Sweden
Iconic Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl is out for this game, after positive COVID tests at her club, Atletico Madrid. She was replaced by 23-year-old Emma Holmgren, currently uncapped for the WNT. Holmgren is one of several young and relatively untested players on this squad, although they are certainly backstopped by a core of mega-experienced players like Nilla Fischer, Linda Sembrant, Kosovare Asllani, Sofia Jakobsson, and Caroline Seger.
Asllani and Jakobsson have been having an overall decent time of it in Spain with Real Madrid, and alongside Blackstenius, create an obvious offensive core to watch. On the other end of the field, center back Magdalena Eriksson could be a target for the United States’ high attacking pressure, stopping her from using her ability to cycle the ball out from the back and limiting Sweden’s ability to work out of pressure deeper in their own territory. And in the middle, even at 36 and 211 caps, Caroline Seger is still one to watch as a two-way midfielder whose defensive work and passing can help flip the team from being on the back foot to transitioning in attack.
Sweden roster: Jennifer Falk, Emma Holmgren, Zecira Musovic, Jonna Andersson, Magdalena Eriksson, Nilla Fischer, Hanna Glas, Amanda Ilestedt, Emma Kullberg, Josefine Rybrink, Linda Sembrant, Jessica Wik, Filippa Angeldal, Kosovare Asllani, Hanna Bennison, Stina Blackstenius, Rebecka Blomqvist, Filippa Curmark, Lina Hurtig, Sofia Jakobsson, Madalen Janogy, Fridolina Rolfö, Johanna Rytting Kaneryd, Olivia Schough, Caroline Seger
Hard roster decisions for the United States
So you’ve got too many Olympic caliber players on your roster. Who weeps for Vlatko Andonovski?
Probably one of the players who he’ll be forced to cut, given there’s depth at every position with this bunch. Look at this roster and choose who gets viciously cut to make the roster fit the 18-player maximum?
USA roster: Jane Campbell, Casey Murphy, Alyssa Naeher, Alana Cook, Abby Dahlkemper, Tierna Davidson, Crystal Dunn, Kelley O’Hara, Margaret Purce, Becky Sauerbrunn, Emily Sonnett, Julie Ertz, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle, Catarina Macario, Kristie Mewis, Samantha Mewis, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Christen Press, Megan Rapinoe, Sophia Smith, Lynn Williams
Okay, the goalkeepers are maybe slightly easier since you can only have two and you know Alyssa Naeher is probably going to be one of them. At center back there’s Cook, Dahlkemper, Davidson, and Sauerbrunn, with Sonnett additionally able to shift inside sometimes. Sonnett joins the fullbacks with Dunn, O’Hara, and Purce. Kristie Mewis might get the tragically short end of the midfield given the feel-good story of how she’s played her way back into the NT picture but how do you argue with a midfield that already has Horan, Lavelle, Macario, and Sam Mewis in it, with Ertz sitting deeper? Then amongst the forwards, who don’t even have Tobin Heath currently available due to injury, there’s even more decisions to make. Perhaps, controversially, Rapinoe might be in question here; she certainly still has the skill, but the engine is starting to fade. Do you keep someone who’s got the head for big-game moments and can still turn the tide but only has 30-45 minutes at a time in her legs, particularly given the fast-paced constraints and reduced recovery time of a tournament? Let’s find out together!
Time and TV info
USA vs Sweden
Saturday, April 10
1 PM ET / 10 AM PT
Live on Fox