“Soccer can be cruel at times,” was how USWNT star Megan Rapinoe summed up her country’s Women’s World Cup 2023 elimination at the hands of the Sweden in the round of 16. The 38-year-old, who was the star of the 2019 tournament in France and has led the fight for equal pay in women’s soccer, was one of three US players to fail to score in the penalty shootout, missing the target all together.
Rapinoe “explains” laughing after penalty miss
Rapinoe was criticised online for appearing to laugh after she had missed from the spot, but she went some way to explaining her reaction after the game: “I feel like this is like a sick joke to me. I don’t know, it seems like a dark comedy. I missed a penalty,” she told Fox Sports reporter Jenny Taft in the mixed zone.The OL Reign star added, “Soccer can be cruel at times. It just wasn’t our day. Knowing that this is the first time I’ve been involved (in a penalty shootout) so early in a tournament, it makes me realise how successful we’ve been and remember what a joy it is for me to play for and represent my country. It has been an honour.”
VAR intervenes in USWNT penalty shootout defeat
One of the USWNT’s best performers at the tournament was Alyssa Naeher, who perhaps most suffered at the hands of the “cruelty” discussed by Rapinoe. “We lost by millimetres”, said the goalkeeper after VAR had been used to confirm she hadn’t quite done enough to stop Lina Hurtig’s winning penalty from crossing the line.
“It’s tough… We had some great chances. Well done to the Swedish goalkeeper for a series of great saves to keep it at 0-0. I’m proud of how we battled, proud of this group of players. We showed that American mentality again that has been the standard for this team. Falling short hurts and it’s going to hurt for a long time,” added the Chicago Red Stars player.Morgan: World Cup exit “a nightmare”
USWNT icon Alex Morgan, meanwhile, described her team’s exit from the World Cup as “a nightmare” and talked about her devastation at how things had played out. “I think we dominated the game today, but that doesn’t matter, we’re going home and that’s what can happen in this sport.”