WINNIPEG, Manitoba - At 5-2, Meghan Klingenberg might have been the smallest player on the field, but she wound up making the biggest play of the game for the United States Friday night.
If she hadn't, the Americans might not necessarily be in the Group D driver's seat at the Women's World Cup.
With Sweden bearing down on the USA goal in the 77th minute, Klingenberg headed Caroline Seger's shot off the line and off the underside of the crossbar to preserve a scoreless draw at Investors Group Field.
The result might not have been what the Americans (1-0-1, 4 points) wanted, but it kept them in first place. They can win the group by defeating Nigeria (0-1-1, 1) in their final group stage game in Vancouver on Tuesday and take an easier path in the knockout round. Australia (1-1-0, 3) is next, followed by Sweden (0-0-2, 2). The top two teams will advance, with the four best third-place sides moving on.
"It was like two heavyweights going at it," USA coach Jill Ellis said. "They were tough to break down. Overall, we're still in the driver's seat."
Thanks to Klingenberg, who will never be confused with a heavyweight.
Elin Rubensson swung a corner kick into the penalty area that eventually came to Seger on one bounce on the left side of the penalty area. Goalkeeper Hope Solo moved slightly toward that way. Seger drilled an 8-yard shot toward the far right post. Klingenberg headed it against the underside of the bar. The ball bounced down, but did not go over the goal line, which goal-line technology later verified.
"I'm just thankful for that goal-line technology," Klingenberg said.
Some others weren't.
"I was absolutely sure it was over the line," Sweden coach Pia Sundhage said. "I couldn't believe it."
Klingenberg kept her head before her header.
"When Hope slides across, I need to slide to make sure I'm covering the line of her far side," Klingenberg said. "That's what I did. Luckily, I got my head on it."
Ellis called the play "brilliant."
"Believe it or not, we have actually practiced that," she said. "[At 5-2] you have to practice that."
Asked if she had a good vertical leap, Klingenberg replied, "I guess when you're this short, you've got to be able make up for it somehow."
Klingenberg wasn't the only player to perform goal-line heroics. On the other side of the pitch, Sweden keeper Hedvig Lindahl made two vital saves. She denied Carli Lloyd's hard shot in the 49th minute and parried a point-blank header by Abby Wambach off the crossbar in the 72nd minute.
"We do have one of the best goalkeepers in the world," Sundhage said. "She showed that today."
Beyond the defensive saves, it was a rather disappointing night for the USA, which had a handful of scoring opportunities. Ellis started Sydney Leroux and Christen Press, moved up front from midfield. Alex Morgan, still not at full match fitness, and Wambach were relegated to second-half roles.
"In the first half it was hard for us to find our rhythm," Morgan said. "Once we start to wear teams down in the second half, we become more in control. It's been tough in both first halves of these two games."