The US women’s national team will not be entering the quarterfinals at this year’s FIFA World Cup after losing to Sweden 0-0 via a penalty shootout on Sunday. The two-time defending champions will now have to watch from the sidelines as a new champion is crowned for the first time in 12 years.
Their exit in the round of 16 is the worst World Cup finish for the US in the history of the tournament. No US team had ever finished worse than third at the Women’s World Cup. This year’s team will likely finish around 12th. With only 4 goals in their entire World Cup, it isn’t very surprising that the team wasn’t able to make a deep run. Previously the USWNT have never scored less than 12 goals in the tournament.
It’s expected that Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski will lose his job after the extremely disappointing campaign. The team may also look to make some changes and bring in some younger players going forward.
The US starting 11 underwent a couple of changes compared to the previous game against Portugal. Trinity Rodman and Emily Sonnett were added to the lineup, as Andonovski switched formation to a five-player midfield.
The changes seemed to workout with the US dominating the time of possession and controlling the ball for most of the first half. There were multiple chances on goal, the closest coming from Captain Lindsey Horan whose header hit the crossbar in the 34th minute. Trinity Rodman was also able to get a couple long distance shots which were barely off the mark. Even though the US seemed to be pressuring Sweden throughout the first half the two teams went into halftime leveled at 0-0.
In the second half, Lindsey Horan forced a big diving save from Swedish goalkeeper Mušović early on. There were a few more close calls but Sweden was able to escape regulation scoreless. Extra time was more of the same with Mušović standing firm, first against Morgan and then Smith, who tried to sneak one past her at the near post in the 107th minute. Even without much in the form of offense, Sweden were able to push the match into penalties.
The US had 21 shots on goal over the course of the match of which 11 were on target. Sweden only had 9 shots on goal with only a single shot being on target.
The nervy shootout started off with Andi Sullivan and Fridolina Rolfö making their opening kicks. Lindsey Horan and Elin Rubensson also both held serve in the second round. It wasn’t until the third round that we had separation, as Kristie Mewis scored and Nathalie Björn missed to give the U.S. a 3-2 lead.
Megan Rapinoe skied her penalty high and wide. But it was saved by Alyssa Naeher who made a stop to keep the US one ahead. Sophia Smith had a chance to win the match but missed the net entirely. Hanna Bennison then hit her shot to send the match into sudden death.
In the sixth round, Naeher made her penalty for the US and then came within inches of stopping Magdalena Eriksson’s sixth attempt for Sweden. The seventh and last round saw Kelley O’Hara hit the post and Lina Hurtig secure the victory by pushing one past the outstretched arms of Naeher.
It was heartbreak as the US who had dominated regulation were forced out of the competition.
A New Champion To Be Crowned
With the USWNT eliminated, there will be a new champion this year at the World Cup. Sweden will be one of the obvious challengers for the title going into the quarterfinals, along with England, Spain and France.
Quarter-final matchups confirmed so far are Spain vs. Netherlands and Japan vs. Sweden which will take place August 11th. Other teams left in the competition include England, Nigeria, Colombia, Jamaica, Australia, Denmark, France and Morocco.
Of the teams left in the tournament, only Japan has ever won the championship. This makes the chances that we will get a new winner this year very likely.