After 2-2 tie with Sweden, U.S. must beat Finland for title shot.
The U.S. (1-0-1) must defeat Finland (2-0) to win Group B and earn a spot in Thursday’s championship match against the Group A leader. Otherwise Finland will play for the title. Germany (2-0) has the upper hand in Group A after a 6-0 pounding of Denmark (0-2) combined with Iceland (1-1) having recorded a shocking, 2-1 upset of Norway (1-1).
On Thursday, the two group second-place teams will meet to decide third place, the two group third-place teams will play for fifth place and the two last-place teams will compete for seventh place.
"We are in must win game now," said U.S. coach Jill Ellis. "But I feel confident that we'll get it done."
Despite dominating most of the contest, the U.S. twice had to erase one-goal deficits, created by goals by Sweden’s Sara Johansson, to earn the draw. Both the Americans and Sweden played quality soccer, but it was the U.S. that held a 16-9 advantage in shots and an 8-2 edge in corner kicks, not to mention superior time of possession.
"I thought we struggled in the first half," Ellis said. "We seemed a bit tired and leg-less, and we had a few chances, but we really weren't in rhythm. We rallied in the second half and played some tremendous soccer. I was extremely pleased that we came back from a goal down twice and knocked the ball around well. We deserved the result."
With six minutes remaining, Wagner took a pass from Aleisha Cramer in a crowd in the box just to the right of the penalty spot and nailed the lower left corner for the 2-2 tie.
In the 81st minute, Johansson put Sweden up 2-1, scoring on a breakaway that the Americans claimed should have been ruled offside.
Sweden went ahead 1-0 in the 30th minute when the speedy forward Johansson darted between U.S. defenders Anna Kraus and Nandi Pryce, Kraus her to the right away from the goal, but as goalkeeper Hope Solo came out to challenge, Johansson knocked the ball past the sliding keeper and into the net.
The U.S. nearly tied it in the 64th minute when striker Mary Frances Monroe hit the crossbar from 20 yards. Then in the 73rd minute, Wagner received a pass from Susan Bush and carried through the center of the Swedish defense. She navigated tight space in the box, then popped free for an instant and tucked her shot into lower left corner from 12 yards.
"Aly played a great game," Ellis said. "She carried the midfield and her goals were tremendous individual efforts."
United States 2, Sweden 2Lineups: United States - Hope Solo, Anna Kraus, Nandi Pryce, Michelle French, Susan Bush, Aleisha Cramer, Jena Kluegel (Marcia Wallis 79), Aly Wagner, Alyssa Ramsey, Christie Welsh (Danielle Borgman 58), Mary Frances Monroe. Sweden - Ulla-Karin Thelin, Malin Nykvist, Lina Svensson, Sara Thunebro, Anna Andersson, Sara Larsson, Terese Lundin, Lisa Johansson (Terese Brogarde 82), Sara Johansson (Charlotte Rohlin 80), Malin Normelli (Sofia Eriksson 55), Terese Jonsson.
Shots: United States 16, Sweden 8 Saves: United States 2, Sweden 7. Corner kicks: United States 8, Sweden 2. Fouls: United States 9, Sweden 8. Offside: United States 6, Sweden 3. Yellow card cautions: United States - Bush 89; Sweden - Larsson 19.
Referee: Bibiana Steinhaus (Germany) Attendance: 150 at Grune Stadium in Hof, Germany Weather: Mostly sunny, light rain, 64 degrees