The United States women's national team finds itself in unfamiliar territory.
After a draw against Japan and a 1-0 loss to Sweden, the Americans are now guaranteed of missing the Algarve Cup final for just the second time in the last 12 years. Moreover, they are at serious risk of missing out on a top-three finish for the first time during that same span.
The team's official Twitter feed gave a look at the frustrating performance against Sweden:
With just one point through two matches, Tom Sermanni's squad needs to beat Denmark, which has dropped both of its contests so far, needs Japan to lose to Sweden and needs to catch Japan on goal differential (currently minus-one to Japan's plus-one) just to finish second in Group B and book a spot in the third-place match.
Five points shy of Sweden, meanwhile, the Red, White and Blue, who have won this tournament eight times in the last 11 years, have no chance of making the final.
Here's a look at everything you need to know about the upcoming matchup.
Date: Monday, March 10, 2014
Kickoff: 10:40 a.m. ET
Where: Municipal Stadium, Albufeira, Portugal
Key to the Match: Can the Americans Finish Their Chances?
During a 1-1 draw with Japan, the United States controlled a majority of the possession and outshot its opponent, 20-8. In fact, the Americans had as many shots on target (eight) as the Japanese ladies had overall.
Following the match, Sermanni was encouraged with his team's ability to create chances, via USSoccer.com:
Other than the result, which is disappointing, the actual performance, the chances we created, the way we pressured Japan, the amount of balls we won in the Japanese half, and the way we just generally, particularly in the second half, dominated the game, I thought was fanatic. If we had ended up winning the game I’d have been elated, rather than feeling a little bit deflated, simply because of the result.
The numbers against Sweden were nearly as lopsided. The Americans had 12 shots overall and six on target, while the Swedes finished with just four and three, but the all-important goal.
Amy Rodriguez also forced a penalty, but the typically reliable Abby Wambach had her attempt from the spot thwarted by goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl.
The necessity to start taking advantage of these prime opportunities was once again a major talking point:
Denmark has allowed just three goals in its two losses, but with Sydney Leroux back—she missed the game against Sweden with food poisoning—and the Americans' ability to swing the point of attack, open up spaces and beat teams with their speed, the chances will once again be there.
They just need to put the ball in the back of the net.
The Americans may not have a title to play for, but you can bet they'll still come out with something to prove after such disappointing results through their first two matches.
Look for them to attack relentlessly with a spot in the third-place match potentially coming down to goal differential, and expect that to start to equal goals.
United States 3, Denmark 0
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