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U.S. Women's World Cup Team To Face Sweden, Ex-American Coach
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U.S. Women's World Cup Team To Face Sweden, Ex-American Coach

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U.S. Women's World Cup Team To Face Sweden, Ex-American Coach

U.S. Women's World Cup Team To Face Sweden, Ex-American Coach
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There's no love lost between these two soccer teams. Sweden's Pia Sundhage was critical of some of the U.S. players she used to coach. The U.S. team is looking for its second consecutive win.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

If you have not yet watched any of the Women's World Cup games, we get it; you're busy. But NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji says you're going to want to set aside some time to check out tonight's U.S. match.

SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI, BYLINE: They're playing Sweden. And Sweden's coach, Pia Sundhage, she was once the U.S. coach. She led the U.S. to two Olympic golds and a second place in the last World Cup. Sundhage was quoted in a New York Times' story this week talking smack about a few U.S. players. Midfielder Carli Lloyd, Sundhage said she was a challenge to coach and inferred she had self-esteem issues. And star forward Abby Wambach - she'd be a sub. But U.S. coach Jill Ellis started Wambach in their first game against Australia, leaving her in for the entire 90 minutes. The U.S. won that game 3-1, and Ellis says yeah, she was briefed about Sundhage's comments.

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JILL ELLIS: You know, I think I've made it pretty clear distractions don't really creep into my mind when I'm trying to prepare my players and my team for the game.

MERAJI: And from the looks of it, it's going to be quite the game to prep for. Sweden tied a much lower-ranked Nigeria 3-3. And fans of Nigeria's Super Falcons, as they're called, were ecstatic after the game.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED FANS: (Singing in foreign language).

MERAJI: That draw means Sweden is gunning for a win against the U.S. tonight. It's their best chance to advance in the tournament. Sweden is ranked fifth to the U.S.'s second, but Sweden has a coach who knows how many of the U.S.'s players perform on the field and who just disparaged a few of them in the media - extra motivation for the U.S. to bring it tonight?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LORI CHALUPNY: I think when you're at a World Cup, there's no extra motivation needed.

MERAJI: Defender Lori Chalupny says the U.S. will play hard and play to win like they always do. Shereen Marisol Meraji, NPR News, Winnipeg.

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