Los Angeles Soccer: Kosovare Asllani
UCLA's Sydney Leroux made her first full international appearance, but it wasn't a game to remember: The U.S. women let an early lead slip away in a 2-1 loss to Sweden in Friday's Four Nations opener at Chongqing, China.
Sweden will be the Americans' third group opponent at next summer's Women's World Cup in Germany.
Leroux, a senior-to-be at UCLA, came on in the 86th minute for Heather O'Reilly as the U.S. sought an equalizer. Diamond Bar's Alex Morgan (Diamond Bar HS) also was a second-half substitute, entering in the 72nd minute for Lake Forest's Amy Rodriguez (Santa Margarita Catholic HS/USC). Redondo Beach's Shannon Boxx (South Torrance HS) played the first half, and former UCLA star Lauren Cheney went 90 minutes up top.
Carli Lloyd gave the U.S. an 11th-minute lead. Stina Segerstrom scored for Sweden in the 16th, and former Chicago Red Stars forward Kosovare Asllani netted the winner in the 61st.
The U.S. faces Canada on Sunday and China on Tuesday to complete the Four Nations event.
There's always a “Group of Death” in any FIFA competition, or so it seems, and that group at next summer's Women's World Cup in Germany belongs to the U.S.
And to Germany. And to Brazil.
There are three “death” groups in this year's field, product of the rapid growth of women's soccer outside the traditional strongholds of the U.S., Germany, Scandinavia and the Far East.
The Americans, seeded Sunday atop Group C, welcomed North Korea, Colombia and Sweden into their quartet during Monday's WWC draw in Frankfurt. That's three legitimate contenders (for at least semifinal berths) for just two spots in the eight-team knockout bracket. And we'll see about Colombia.
And it gets worse: A quarterfinal awaits with Brazil or Australia or Norway (and we'll see about Equatorial Guinea), and the likeliest semifinal foe are the Germans, prohibitive favorites to win their third successive WWC.