Jill Ellis: USA motivated and hungry for Spain matchup

Women’s World Cup Crystal Dunn turned adversity into success for U.S

The United States doesn't have to beat Sweden in the last game of the group stage of the Women's World Cup on Thursday.

Since the first Women's World Cup in 1991, only seven teams have made an appearance at every tournament, two of them being Sweden and the United States. Not only did Sweden beat them at the 2011 World Cup and hold them to a goalless draw in Canada last time out, they also knocked them out in the quarter-finals at the Rio Olympics in 2016. The United States then went up 2-0 on an own goal off Jonna Andersson in the 50th minute that gave the Americans a tournament-record 18 goals in the group stage.

A win and the Americans would face France in the quarterfinals.

Against Sweden, Ellis used the backline that is expected to start in the knockout phase, with Abby Dahlkemper alongside Sauerbrunn, Kelley O'Hara on the right and Crystal Dunn on the left. "I don't know what the U.S. feels for this game, but it's the first time since the Olympics that we meet in this kind of setting, so I think they do want to put us in our place", she said. In the fastest goal scored in this World Cup so far, Megan Rapinoe took the first corner kick of the match a bit poorly, hitting a bouncing ball only about a yard from the end line that came into the box and was quickly deflected by Sam Mewis.

The United States, France, England, Germany and the Netherlands all won their first three games in France. Four players were given their World Cup debuts for a formidable baptism on the big stage. Against Jamaica, she almost tied Morgan's five-goal game by scoring every goal in the Matildas' 4-1 rout over the Reggae Girlz.

If the top-ranked USA can get past No. 13 Spain, there's a possibility of a clash against hosts France in the quarterfinal in Paris. The United States has outscored their first two opponents by a count of 16-0, and they look poised to make a deep run in this tournament.

Coach Jill Ellis said she believed that friendly was critical to the Americans' preparation, but both teams have since evolved.

"I struggle to tell my team not to tackle each other in training the day before" a match, Ellis said.

Carli Lloyd came on for Alex Morgan at half time, as Morgan was a little shaken up after being fouled in the first half.

We already knew the USWNT was advancing into the knockout stage of the tournament-but this match determined who the U.S. will play next. Initially, Heath was credited with the goal, but because the attempt might not have been on the target without the deflection, it was ruled an own goal.

"It was really purposeful why we wanted to play them earlier in the year".

Ertz was kept out in the same way Morgan was, to allow for additional time for recovery while not risking exacerbating the injury.

Another key player to cast doubt over her availability for the remainder of the tournament is midfielder Julie Ertz, who missed Thursday's contest against Sweden entirely after picking up a thigh contusion.

The more viewers of each of the USWNT matches, the better.

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