Updated at 12:15 p.m. ET On June 17:
U.S. veteran Abby Wambach, making her second start of the World Cup, scored her first goal of the tournament and the 183rd of her storied international career to push the Americans past Nigeria on Tuesday in Vancouver, Canada.
The 1-0 victory allowed the U.S. to win Group D and advance into the elimination rounds, where they'll face another group's third-place team on Monday, followed by a possible matchup against Cameroon or China later next week.
The Americans dominated the match, taking twice as many shots as the Nigerians. Nigeria's players also got into foul trouble, finding themselves the recipients of multiple yellow cards. Defender Sarah Nnodim got two of them, resulting in a red card and her ejection from the game. The loss to the U.S. eliminated Nigeria.
In the other Group D game, Australia tied Sweden, taking second place and advancing to face Brazil. Sweden ended in third place, but may still have another match, as four of the six third-place teams will move on.
The United States is back in action tonight at the Women's World Cup in Canada. The U.S. has its final soccer game in group play against Nigeria. With a win, the U.S. would advance to the knockout round. Even with a tie or a loss, the U.S. could still move on. (More on that below.)
Nigeria started the tournament well with a surprising and thrilling 3-3 draw against fifth-ranked Sweden. The Nigerian soccer team (nicknamed the Super Falcons) played flat in the next game against Australia, losing 2-0. This is the final game in group play for both teams and the U.S. is favored to win tonight's match.
For tonight's game, Nigeria will be missing a player. Defender Ugo Njoku was fined and suspended for three games after throwing a vicious elbow to the face of an Australian player in Friday's game.
The U.S. is hoping to escape tonight's game without injuries. Perhaps the biggest struggle for the U.S. is scoring goals. After the 0-0 game against Sweden, forward Abby Wambach blamed the lack of scoring on the artificial turf. This is the first (and last) World Cup tournament played on turf.
If the U.S. is victorious tonight, it will win Group D and have a much easier time advancing in the World Cup. If the U.S. ties or loses against Nigeria, here are the scenarios for moving on (and it's complicated!) via U.S. Soccer:
The U.S. will finish in first place in the group if:
- It beats Nigeria
- It ties Nigeria and Australia vs. Sweden finishes in a tie
- It ties Nigeria and Sweden beats Australia by one goal
- It loses to Nigeria by one goal and Sweden ties Australia
- If the U.S. finishes first in Group D, the team would play the third place finisher of Group B/E/F on June 22 in Edmonton.
The U.S. will finish in second place in the group if:
- It ties Nigeria and Australia beats Sweden
- It ties Nigeria and Sweden beats Australia by more than two goals
- It ties Nigeria and Sweden beats Australia by two goals, but Sweden has more "Goals For" than U.S.
- It loses to Nigeria by one goal and there is a winner between Australia and Sweden
- It loses to Nigeria by two goals, Australia and Sweden tie, and the U.S. has more "Goals For" than Australia
If the U.S. finishes second in Group D, the team would play Brazil on June 21 in Moncton.
Kickoff tonight is at 8 p.m. ET and will be broadcast by Fox and NBC Universo.