World

USA faces Sweden in World Cup knockout round in Australia

The Round of 16 match began at 7 p.m. local time in Melbourne.

The United States is taking on Sweden on Sunday in a World Cup knockout match pitting the reigning champions against a hard-charging team on a winning streak.

The Round of 16 match began at 7 p.m. local time, or 5 a.m. ET, at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.

The U.S. squad were the favorites entering the tournament, having won the last two World Cups, held in 2019 and 2015. They were also top of the pile in 1999 and 1991.

United States’ Andi Sullivan, left, and Sweden’s Kosovare Asllani, center, compete for the ball during the Women’s World Cup Round of 16 soccer match in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023.

Scott Barbour/AP

But their footwork in the group stage didn’t equate to many goals, or victories. They handily beat Vietnam in a 3-0 match, but their matches against the Netherlands and Portugal both ended in draws.

They exited the round with five points, trailing the Netherlands by two. This was the first time in Women’s World Cup history that the U.S. earned fewer than six points during the group stage.

PHOTO: U.S. and Sweden play in the FIFA Women's World Cup Round of 16 in Melbourne, Australia, August 6, 2023.

U.S. and Sweden play in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Round of 16 in Melbourne, Australia, August 6, 2023.

Hannah Mckay/Reuters

Sweden, which was ranked third in the tournament, was the runner up in 2003, their top placement since the initial 1991 tournament.

They topped their group with nine points after handily trouncing Argentina, Italy and South Africa. Only two other teams, England and Japan, left the group round undefeated.

PHOTO: United States fans outside the stadium before the Sweden vs. United States match on August 6, 2023, in Melbourne, Australia.

United States fans outside the stadium before the Sweden vs. United States match on August 6, 2023, in Melbourne, Australia.

Hannah Mckay/Reuters

The United States and Sweden have played each other in every Women’s World Cup since 2003.

“It wouldn’t be a major tournament if we weren’t facing Sweden,” Lindsey Horan, the U.S. captain, said.

PHOTO: Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. and teammates inside the stadium before their FIFA Women's World Cup Round of 16 match against Sweden in Melbourne, Australia, August 6, 2023.

Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. and teammates inside the stadium before their FIFA Women’s World Cup Round of 16 match against Sweden in Melbourne, Australia, August 6, 2023.

Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters

She and Sophia Smith have so far been the USWNT’s leading scorers, each netting two. No other player scored in the group stage.

Rose Lavelle will sit the match out after earning a yellow card accumulation suspension.

The winner of this match faces Japan in the quarterfinals.

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