The USWNT defeated Sweden 2-0 on Thursday to win Group F. (Photo: Getty Images)
While the result isn't as dramatic as an Olympic quarterfinal, the United States was able to provide some payback to Sweden on Thursday with a 2-0 victory at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.
Goals from Lindsey Horan and Tobin Heath were enough to get past the defensive-minded Swedes, who had conceded just one goal in its first two matches.
The win ensured the United States won Group F with nine points, three better than Sweden. They now head into the Round of 16 knockout stage where they will meet Spain on Jun. 24.
They wasted little time exacting such revenge as Horan scored the fastest goal at this year's World Cup with an easy tap-in at the three-minute mark.
Off a corner delivered by Megan Rapinoe, a run to the near post by Sam Mewis saw the midfielder provide a pristine flick to the uncovered Horan for the goal.
The quick strike seemed to catch Sweden napping as they built a reputation of being a defensive-first side when playing against some of the best teams in the world. It was that counter-attacking strategy that eliminated the US from the quarterfinals at the 2016 Summer Olympics three years ago.
Sweden managed to settle down after that and stay clean for the remainder of the first half, continuously absorbing United States pressure and turning away their numerous shot attempts.
In the first 45 minutes alone, the United States attempted 12 shots while seven found their way on target as Swedish keeper Hedvig Lindhal was plenty busy.
Heath finally provided a second for the US in the 50th minute — though FIFA officials inexplicably changed it to an own goal — thanks to an individual display of brilliance down the right end line. The American forward deked her defender just enough to cannon a shot from a tight angle into the back of the net thanks to a minuscule deflection off a Swedish defender.
Despite the shutout, American keeper Alyssa Naeher was the busiest she's been at the World Cup. Sweden was able to nab a few chances on the counter against a shorthanded US defense, recording six shots on Thursday.
Julie Ertz, the calming defensive presence in either the midfield or back line, was a last-minute scratch after suffering a minor hip contusion.
Given her value, it was a notable absence in such a large game. However, the combination of midfielder Lindsey Horan alongside center backs Becky Sauerbrunn and Abby Dahlkemper managed to hold things together.
Granted, there were some shaky moments throughout the match as Sweden sent its strikers up to apply pressure on the back line. They most notably keyed in on forward-turned-left-back Crystal Dunn and created a few turnovers in the process.
The defense did just enough though to ensure that the United States' clean-sheet streak continued. It has now been seven-straight matches in which the Americans have not conceded a goal.