The United States finally will face a tough opponent in the Women's World Cup, and it's a team that embarrassed the Americans in their last significant tournament. The defending champions wrap up the group stage at 2 p.m. Thursday (Ch. 9) with a match against nemesis Sweden.
Which U.S. team shows up remains to be seen: The one that pounced on Thailand in the opener and celebrated every goal in a 13-0 rout, or the more staid team that downed Chile 3-0 and muted the celebration.
What's certain is that Sweden poses the biggest challenge to the United States so far.
Three years ago at the Olympics, the Swedes got to the Americans in the quarterfinals by bunkering in on defense to thwart the normally powerful U.S. attack. After a 1-1 draw, Sweden prevailed on penalties and handed the United States its earliest exit in the tournament.
Both teams go into Thursday's match with a pair of wins, and both have clinched berths in the round of 16. Ninth-ranked Sweden opened with a 2-0 victory over Chile and followed with a 5-1 win over Thailand.
The top-ranked Americans have the better goal difference and with a win or draw they would play Spain in the round of 16. That could set up a quarterfinal clash against No. 4 France in Paris, and then a meeting with No. 3 England in the semifinals.
The team that finishes second in the group will meet the Netherlands or Canada in the round of 16 and then could have a quarterfinal against No. 2 Germany, which would not have the home-country advantage that France's fans bring to each match.
... England remained undefeated and clinched the top spot in its group with a 2-0 victory over Japan. ... Argentina overcame a three-goal deficit in the final 30 minutes for a 3-3 draw a that eliminated Scotland.
Vanderbilt tops Mississippi State
Stephen Scott homered twice and drove in four runs in Vanderbilt's 6-3 victory over Mississippi State in the College World Series. ... Two Louisville relievers held Auburn to two runs over five innings as the Cardinals eliminated Auburn 5-3, completing a game suspended by rain one day earlier. ... Brian Klein hit the tiebreaking home run as Texas Tech beat Florida State 4-1 to close the 40-year coaching career of NCAA all-time wins leader Mike Martin.
around the horn
NHL: Philadelphia signed center Kevin Hayes to a seven-year, $50 million contract.
Tennis: The first meeting of identical twins in WTA Tour history ended with an upset as Kristyna Pliskova overcame a ranking gap of more than 100 places to beat Karolina at the grass-court Birmingham Classic. Kristyna, ranked No. 112, won 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7) against her No. 3-ranked sister.
College volleyball: Iowa fired coach Bond Shymansky, saying he committed a major NCAA rules violation, providing an impermissible benefit to a prospect.
WNBA: Tiffany Hayes scored a season-high 28 points as Atlanta beat Indiana 88-78. ... Courtney Vandersloot had 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists to help Chicago beat New York 91-83.