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GROUP A

UNITED STATES vs. SWEDEN

September 21, 2003|Baltimore Sun

How they got there: At the CONCACAF Gold Cup to qualify, the U.S. nipped Canada, 2-1, in the championship game. Sweden won a tiebreaker with Denmark to lead UEFA's second qualifying group.

Players to watch: Any talk of U.S. soccer begins with Mia Hamm, who will look to add to her record 142 international goals in her final World Cup. Sweden forward Hanna Ljunberg is as strong on the ball as in the air, with 48 international goals.

Previous appearances: Winners at home in 1999, the U.S. is seeking its third World Cup in four tries. Sweden placed third in the inaugural World Cup in 1991 and then faltered in the quarterfinals in 1995 and 1999.

Quick look: With their experience, depth and talent, the U.S. is the favorite to win the whole thing again. But getting out of Group A -- dubbed the "Group of Death" -- will be no easy chore. Playing at home gives the Americans an added edge, so expect them to set the Group A standard with Sweden, Nigeria and North Korea in a good battle to advance with the second-place spot.

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