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Late Rapinoe Equalizer Saves USWNT From First Defeat In More Than 2 Years

A fortunate call late helped the U.S. avoid defeat in a game Sweden probably deserved to win.

The USWNT is so dominant in world soccer, some games feel like they’re over before they begin. But that’s never the case when Sweden lines up against the U.S., and we saw Saturday as the USWNT narrowly escaped defeat, salvaging a 1-1 draw with a late Megan Rapinoe penalty in a friendly in Stockholm. 

Sweden looked like it might hand the USWNT its first loss since Jan. 19, 2019, taking a first-half lead and looking more likely to score the second goal for most of the match. But a questionable call late gave the U.S. a lifeline, and Rapinoe converted from the spot to equalize in the 87th minute. 

The U.S. has now gone 38 games unbeaten, barely.

A day that began with celebrations for Carli Lloyd’s landmark 300th appearance for the USWNT nearly ended in a rare loss for the Americans. If we’re being honest, Sweden probably deserved a win. The team that knocked the U.S. out of the Olympics without a medal for the first time in 2016 prepared for this summer’s Olympics with an impressive showing. 

Sweden vs USWNT Highlights

Sweden took a well-earned first-half lead when Lina Hurtig outjumped the USWNT defense on a corner kick on 38 minutes. It marked the first goal the U.S. has allowed since a 3-1 win over Japan on March 11, 2020, and the first time the team has trailed since drawing South Korea 1-1 on Oct. 6, 2019.

Sweden had the better of the chances to end the first half and start the second. Alyssa Naeher made a big save before halftime to keep it just a one-goal deficit, and the U.S. keeper was fortunate not to be caught out early in the second half when she was beaten to a ball at the edge of the box. 

Vlatko Andonovski, trying to avoid his first defeat as USWNT coach, threw on Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Sam Mewis and Kristie Mewis in search of an equalizer to no avail until the referee pointed to the spot in the dying minutes. 

Kelley O’Hara was taken down on the edge of the area — if you ask us, she was fouled outside of the box. Nonetheless the referee pointed to the spot, and there was no VAR to change the call.

Rapinoe snuck her penalty just inside the left post past a diving Jennifer Falk to keep the USWNT’s unbeaten streak alive.

Sweden will be disappointed it couldn’t hand the U.S. another defeat but can take some confidence into this summer’s Olympics.

Andonovski meanwhile failed to win for the first time in 17 matches, ending his 16-game winning streak since taking charge of the USWNT in late 2019. 

The USWNT will have to regroup quickly as France awaits on Tuesday for a friendly in Le Havre, the site of the USWNT’s last defeat. Ranked third in the world, France easily dispatched England 3-1 on Friday

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