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U.S. beaten, 2-1, by Sweden in Women's World Cup and now must play Brazil in the quarterfinals

July 6, 2011 |  1:44 pm

It was never going to be easy, and on Wednesday night in Wolfsburg, Germany, it suddenly became very difficult.

The U.S. women's national soccer team, needing only a tie against Sweden to win its first-round group at the Women's World Cup, instead was beaten, 2-1, and finished second in Group C. The result means that the American team has to play Group D winner Brazil in the quarterfinals Sunday in Dresden.

Brazil is unbeaten, untied and unscored-upon so far in the competition and was the team that routed the U.S., 4-0, in the semifinals of the 2007 Women's World Cup in China.

Defensive lapses led to both Swedish goals in the first half as the American back line struggled to contain the bustling Swedes.

First, Amy LePeilbet dragged down Lotta Schelin after Schelin had gotten past her. That brought a yellow card from the referee for LePeilbet and a penalty kick for Sweden. Lisa Dahlkvist duly dispatched the kick and Sweden led, 1-0, after just over a quarter of an hour.

It was the first time in 796 minutes that U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo had been beaten, and 19 minutes later she was beaten again.

This time it was defender Rachel Buelher who made the mistake, fouling Sweden midfielder Therese Sjogran about 25 yards from the net. The free kick by midfielder Nilla Fischer might have been dealt with by Solo, but the shot deflected off LePeilbet's thigh, changed direction and left the goalkeeper helpless.

Trying to spark her team by making a lineup change, U.S. Coach Pia Sundhage took forward Amy Rodriguez off after the first 45 minutes and sent Alex Morgan on in her stead.

Morgan played her part in the revival. She earned a corner kick that Lauren Cheney took. Cheney found Amy Wambach and the veteran striker did the rest, albeit in ungainly fashion as the ball went in off her shoulder. Still, it cut the deficit to 2-1 with 23 minutes left to play and gave the U.S hope.

The Americans tried everything to get the vital tying goal, but the Swedes are experienced and were able to hold on. It was the first time in two decades of Women's World Cup competition that the U.S. has lost a first-round match.

In other games Wednesday, Brazil shut out Equatorial Guinea, 3-0, with Cristiane scoring twice; Australia surprised Norway, 2-1, to clinch second place in Group D ahead of the former world champions. Australia will play Sweden in the quarterfinals. Finally, in a match between two already eliminated teams, North Korea and Colombia played to a 0-0 tie.


U.S. trails Sweden, 2-0, at halftime in Women's World Cup

New Zealand ties Mexico, 2-2

Brazil clinches berth in Women's World Cup quarterfinals

-- Grahame L. Jones

Photo: Sweden celebrates after scoring their second goal against the U.S. at the Women's World Cup on Wednesday. Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press