A 56th-minute goal by rising star playmaker Rose Lavelle gave the U.S. women's national team a 1-0 win over Sweden on Thursday at the Gamla Ullevi stadium in Gothenburg.
Although Sweden had the better of the play for some sizable stretches, the Americans enjoyed enough of their own good moments to merit the victory. Here's Lavelle's goal, which started with a great assist from Crystal Dunn:
"Crystal was running at the back line and just played an awesome slipped ball into me," Lavelle said. "When I got the ball, I was debating: should I play it across the face of the goal, or should I shoot it? And I decided to be a little selfish."
Then she added with a laugh: "And it was a good choice this time."
For the game, U.S. registered a 4-3 advantage in shots on goal; Sweden held a 13-7 advantage in overall shots.
"I thought we grew into the game," U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. "Sweden is tough to get into the final third on. The quality there, we still can still grow and improve. … Overall, it was a good gut-check in terms of a result, and sometimes you need those."
Alyssa Naeher got the shutout, with lots of help from Allie Long. Sweden had a dangerous chance in the 44th minute when Caroline Seger got free in the box. Her shot from the left side of the penalty area looked to be going wide before it was blocked by Long. The ball bounced over Naeher, but Long recovered to sweep the ball off goal line.
Naeher also made this big save on Swedish star Kosovare Asllani late in the game:
"We probably defended for 40 minutes in that second half, but I think that's a mentality that we need, and that we found tonight," U.S. central defender and co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn said. "We have to grit it out, and we have to have the mentality to be strong and keep a one-goal lead. We did that, and it was tough, and we worked really hard – but we got the result, and that's what matters."
The Americans improved their all-time record against Sweden to 21-6-11, including 3-0-0 in Sweden. Next up is a trip to Norway, where they'll finish their European tour on Sunday (1:30 p.m., Fox; pregame coverage starts at 1 p.m.).
Here's how the U.S. lineup looked over the course of the 90-plus minutes Thursday:
Goalkeeper: Alyssa Naeher
Defenders: Meghan Klingenberg (Abby Dahlkemper HT'), Casey Short, Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O'Hara (Julie Ertz 84′)
Midfielders: Mallory Pugh, Samatha Mewis, Allie Long, Rose Lavelle (Megan Rapinoe 92′)
Forwards: Crystal Dunn (Christen Press 75′), Carli Lloyd (Lindsey Horan HT')
Pugh Long Mewis Lavelle
Klingenberg Short Sauerbrunn O'Hara
Pugh Horan Lavelle
Short Dahlkemper Sauerbrunn O'Hara
Pugh Horan Rapinoe
Short Dahlkemper Sauerbrunn Ertz
This article contains information from the Associated Press.