By Melody Miller
United States women’s national team manager Vlatko Andonovski said yesterday’s 1-1 draw with fifth-ranked Sweden — one that snapped the Americans’ 16-game winning streak — was “very good for us” even as he admitted that his team played well short of its best.
On a day in which U.S. legend and South Jersey’s own Carli Lloyd earned her 300th cap, the Swedes broke on top in the 38th minute when Lina Hurtig headed home from Kosovare Asllani’s corner. While Hurtig’s header was well-placed, the marking and goalkeeping for the U.S. was subpar on the play. The home side then had a pair of massive chances to go two goals up either side of halftime, but couldn’t convert, due in part to U.S. keeper Alyssa Naeher.
In the second half, the U.S. gradually increased the pressure, and substitute Megan Rapinoe equalized from the spot three minutes from time after defender Kelley O’Hara was judged to have been fouled inside the box, even as replays showed otherwise.
Still, Andonovski said he was pleased to have been given a tough test as he prepares his side for the Tokyo Olympics, especially against a team as organized and defensively strong as Sweden is.
“I think that this is, I wouldn’t say one of the best things that happened to us, but something that is very good for us,” he said. “In fact, that’s why we came here. We came here to play good teams. We came [to] Europe to play opponents, to some extent get exposed to different tactics, high level tactics, organized teams and to try to overcome all that.”