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Women's World Cup: US-Sweden Match Set for Sunday - 2003-09-20

The United States begins defense of its Women's World Cup soccer title Sunday in Washington. It could be the toughest first round game for the Americans.

U.S. coach April Heinrichs believes Group A is the most difficult of the four in this tournament. Her team will face Nigeria and a relatively unknown North Korean squad in the first round.

But the opening game for the Americans is against Sweden, ranked fifth in the world. According to Heinrichs, Sweden has grown to be a formidable opponent. "Sweden is a team that for about two years now the U.S. team has really been saying this is a team that is on the rise," said coach Heinrichs. "And we have Sweden in our top five or six teams in the world for the last two or three years."

Heinrichs adds that the Sweden is well matched against the talented Americans. "Sweden we played as recently as the Algarve Cup [in Portugal]. And we tied them 1-1 in a game where either team could have won that game," she said. "Sweden also advanced to the European championships two summers ago and won the Algarve Cup."

The U.S. team is hoping for at least a tie against Sweden to help position itself for one of two quarterfinal berths from Group A. Brazil and South Korea will play in a Group B contest in the doubleheader at RFK stadium.