Neither of these teams quite lived up to expectations in their first matches in this Women's World Cup. The difference is that one of them found a way to overcome that shortfall and win anyways, while the other had to suffer through an opening round draw. Thanks to that hard-fought win, the United States have a chance to clinch a spot in the knockout rounds if they can get another three points in this match, while Sweden will be scrambling to bounce back with a win and get back on-track for their own title dreams.
Sweden had pounced on two awful mistakes from an otherwise organized Nigeria in their match to take a 2-0 lead in the first half, then conceded three second-half goals to wind up with a 3-3 draw. They looked a step off from their normal quality all match long, a trait shared by the United States against Australia. The U.S. women were often sloppy and disjointed, relying on incredible performances from Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn to stay in the match before Australia wore down late and gave them the opening they needed to win.
If either team is going to win, they will have to kick things up a few notches and play at a much higher level than they did on Monday. Both of these teams have serious title aspirations, but neither looked like afinalist. They'll both have to be much better if either want to make it to the final in Vancouver -- whoever looks the best in this tilt might just find themselves in that championship bout come July 5.
Key player -- Megan Rapinoe (United States)
Rapinoe was the best player on the pitch for the U.S. on Monday, single-handedly taking over stretches of the match when her team was struggling to get much of anything going. Against a much-superior Sweden side, she's going to have to replicate that quality once more, and maybe even outshine her performance from earlier in the week. Rapinoe has already won one match practically on her own in this World Cup -- what's one more?
Sauerbrunn had to be at her best on Monday as the U.S. fended off an impressive performance from Australia. The veteran defender anchored her line well and made a number of top-notch plays to keep Australian attackers at bay, but she'll have to take her game up another notch against Sweden's potent attack. Schelin is Sweden's top scorer and a dynamic threat, meaning that Sauerbrunn will have to be at her best to keep Sweden off the scoreboard as long as possible.
Match Date/Time: Friday, 8 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. local
Venue: Winnipeg Stadium, Winnipeg, Canada
TV: FOX (U.S. -- English), NBC Universo (U.S. -- Spanish), CTV (Canada), TV4 Sweden (Sweden), BBC Two (U.K.)