WOLFSBURG, Germany — In the shadow of an immense factory built in the late 1930s to produce the Volkswagen Beetle, the U.S. women's team will try to get the remaining bugs out of its game today .
The Americans (2-0) have already clinched a spot in the World Cup quarterfinals but, with a victory or a tie against Sweden (2-0), would likely avoid a quarterfinal matchup against Brazil.
If the Americans win Group C, they will play Sunday in Augsburg, probably against Norway or Australia. If they finish second in the group, they will play Sunday in Dresden, probably against the Brazilians.
U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said the strategy for the Americans is to play hard and play well. If they win, so much the better. "We've done a great job so far," Sundhage said. "In both the first two games, parts of the games have been very good."
True, but in the victories against North Korea and Colombia, the U.S. struggled to establish dominance. The team's biggest difficulty was up front, with forwards Abby Wambach and Amy Rodriguez failing to score.
The Americans would love to get Wambach and Rodriguez some goals, but Sweden is a more formidable defensive team than the previous opponents, and Wambach might not play. She has been bothered by a balky right Achilles tendon.
Chances are, Sundhage might decide this is the best time to give Wambach, who has not practiced the past two days, a rest. Midfielder Heather O'Reilly, who scored a goal against Colombia, also missed practice Tuesday with a groin strain and could miss the game.
It could open up playing time for two dynamic subs — Megan Rapinoe, who scored off the bench against Colombia, and Alex Morgan.
Women's World CupComment on this story
United States (2-0) vs. Sweden (2-0)
at Wolfsburg, Germany