The USWNT will not play in the quarterfinals at the World Cup for the first time ever. In fact, the United States has never lost a match in the knockout stages short of the semifinals.
It came down to a matter of inches— if that.
As a result of the inability to capitalize on multiple opportunities, and VAR review, the United States will return home. The three-time reigning champions will not complete the four-peat.Unfortunately, the better team may not have won on Sunday. Sweden did not look good outside of its keeper, Zećira Mušović, who played out of her mind.
On the flip side, the Americans played their best match of the tournament. They looked great. The chances were plentiful. Time of possession leaned heavily in their favor.
The United States had 22 shots, with 11 on target. Sweden had nine, with just one on target.
Trinity Rodman was pushing the pace. Sophia Smith was getting her touches and creating offense. Lindsay Horan had two phenomenal shots on goal that would have been the difference.
Julie Ertz was flying around like a banshee. Naomi Girma was remarkable on the back line. Alyssa Naeher silenced any doubt in net.
All of the pieces were there. Everything lined up for the USWNT to advance.
And yet, the result went in the other direction. It was heartbreaking and frustrating.
The U.S. Women are out.
Sunday’s match against Sweden, the third-ranked team in the world, was the longest in World Cup history. It went to the seventh round of penalty kicks and the Americans had three separate opportunities to put it away during the do-or-die period.
Megan Rapinoe subbed on in the 99th minute and replaced Alex Morgan, one of the better peno-takers on the team. She stepped up to the spot on the heels of Sweden’s first miss with a chance to put the Americans in the lead. Her effort was abysmal and did not even require a save. It sailed over the bar.Had Rapinoe made her kick, it would have been over. Instead, the match continued.
Her disappointment was evident.
However, her reaction quickly turned to something of laughter and shock toward the circumstances.