The US scored on Sweden in three minutes. Three exactly.
No one blinked when the US Women’s National Team trounced Thailand in their first 2019 World Cup match — ok, 13 goals caused a little blinking. The US held FIFA’s number one spot for two full years heading into the World Cup. During 2018 World Cup qualifying, no team could even score against them.
The team’s confederation, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) is weak. Besides US regional rival Canada, ranked fifth in the world by FIFA, only two other CONCACAF women’s teams, Mexico (#26) and Costa Rica (#36), break FIFA’s top 50. Who knows is CONCACAF countries even give budget lines to their women’s teams.
Sure, the US team flattens poor, underdeveloped CONCACAF squads, but outside the Olympics and World Cup, it plays only friendlies against the world’s toughest teams. Meanwhile, number two Germany regularly faces number three, France. And eighth ranked Japan plays in the same regional confederation as North Korea, South Korea and China, all in FIFA’s top 15.
After the US sailed through their first two World Cup match ups, everyone said, “Just wait for Sweden. The US always wobbles against Sweden.”
The US scored against Sweden in the third minute. However, as promised, the game provided a sense of the US team’s true measure — and that’s not good for other teams. The US made mistakes in their defensive third and the Swedes had a few interesting counterattacks. Still, the game was always in US control.