In a much anticipated Group F matchup between top ranked USA and ninth ranked Sweden, an early goal by Lindsey Horan vaulted the USWNT to their third shutout victory in three games in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The defeated Sweden 2-0 and complete their group stage scoring a team record 18 goals and allowing zero in the group. The United States will face Spain in the Round of 16.

Ironically, despite Sweden being a much better team than previous opponents Thailand and Chile, USA scored way earlier against Sweden than the other two teams. When it took at least 10 minutes those times, the USWNT was able to score in the first three minutes, fastest in this World Cup, thanks to a set piece goal by Lindsey Horan.

Despite the quickness of this goal, Sweden was organized and determined. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher was finally seriously tested and she performed well, which should alleviate some concerns. Their second goal came close to the start of the second half as Tobin Heath ‘scored’ from an incredibly difficult angle. After a lengthy VAR review, Heath was given the goal but was later credited as a Jonna Andersson own goal. Not sure it should have been an own goal but either way, it doubled the lead for the USA.

In all, it was a solid performance by the USWNT against a very formidable opponent. Heath, Samantha Mewis, and Rose Lavelle had terrific passes that set up prime chances and Megan Rapinoe got the assist for the first goal. Apart from a pregame precautionary benching for Julie Ertz for a hip contusion, Alex Morgan was also subbed out at halftime which raised fears she was injured. Head coach Jill Ellis said Morgan’s substitution was also precautionary.

With that, the group stage completed and we know our 16 finalists. In total, half the bracket is filled with European teams and USA is in what is arguably the more difficult side of the bracket.

Just like many people’s pre-tournament predictions, Germany seems to have the far easier side among the favorites while the USWNT will likely have France and England before the final. Scoring double digit goals might have been fun but now, the real fun begins for the USWNT.

About Phillip Bupp

News and soccer editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. I also do video highlight game coverage for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

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