The United States women's national team continued their preparation for this summer's Tournament of Nations in strong form after they defeated Sweden 1-0 in Gothenburg on Thursday evening.
Rose Lavelle scored the game's only goal after striding on to a Crystal Dunn pass inside the Swedish box and dispatching her chance on the 56-minute mark, although women's football writer Ann Odong bemoaned the hosts' missed chances:
Ann Odong ⚽️📝 @AnnOdong
Positives for Sweden: they've had a LOT of looks at the USA goal Negatives for Sweden: they've had a LOT of looks at the USA goal #SWEvUSA2017-6-8 19:26:12
The Stars and Stripes are scheduled to get their Tournament of Nations underway against Australia on July 28, but before that, they'll have one more friendly fixture in Europe against Norway on Sunday.
Head coach Jill Ellis' side travelled to Sweden having won their last two matches in succession, but it was only in March that their confidence was stunted by back-to-back losses against England and Germany.
There was some bad blood brewing between these two teams prior to kick-off, too, as BT Sport commentator Ian Darke highlighted their most recent meeting ended badly for the Americans:
Ian Darke @IanDarke
USA women seek revenge on team which ko'd them in Rio Olympics - Sweden. From 1.30pm ET on Espn 2 in America. Me and @JulieFoudy in booth.2017-6-8 17:04:07
The first half made for tense viewing as both teams sized each other up in the opening exchanges, but Sweden were confident at times on home soil and found chances through Bayern Munich striker Fridolina Rolfo.
Lotta Schelin—the top scorer in the history of the national team with 86 goals—also looked to add to her record tally, but States stopper Alyssa Naeher held firm between the visiting outfit's posts.
Team talisman Carli Lloyd and defender Meghan Klingenberg made way for Lindsey Horan and Abby Dahlkemper at the break as Ellis sought new innovation in search of the breakthrough. Meanwhile, injured midfielder Morgan Brian showed her support from the sidelines:
Morgan Brian @moeebrian
Let's gooooooo @ussoccer_wnt !!!!!! 👌🏽👍🏽2017-6-8 18:40:18
It appeared to take effect, too, as Lavelle finally found the run that would bamboozle Sweden's defence, getting in behind left-back Jonna Andersson thanks to a crisp through ball from Dunn.
Her club Boston Breakers were swift to celebrate the starlet's second international goal, made all the more important by the fact it proved to be a match-winner:
GGGGOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL by our very own @roselavelle! #USAvSWE2017-6-8 18:49:04
Sweden didn't relent in their pursuit of an equaliser and showed some heart in front of a home audience, although it was perhaps their own profligacy that wrecked their chances against one of the sport's heavyweights.
Odong even suggested the European giants have come to rely too heavily on a select few individuals rather than working as a sum of their parts:
Ann Odong ⚽️📝 @AnnOdong
Sweden have been good at getting in behind USA especially on the wings. They need to find alternative scoring avenues to Schelin & Asllani https://t.co/phcC8SdBJJ2017-6-8 19:16:55
In a way, it's that strength that separated the two teams, with Ellis emerging victorious while experimenting with her substitutes and handing her squad—not just several stars—the responsibility to win.
What's more, spectators will count this as the latest step in what promises to be a long a fruitful career for Lavelle, the United States prospect who continues to blaze a trail on the international circuit.