USWNT Crash Out of Women’s World Cup in Round of 16
The U.S. Women’s National Team crashed out of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in the Round of 16 early Sunday morning, falling to Sweden in penalties. This is the United States’ worst-ever finish at a Women’s World Cup and the first time that the U.S. has lost at a World Cup since 2011.
The U.S. had the front foot for most of the game, winning the possession battle against Sweden 58-42. The USWNT also had significantly more chances, producing 22 shots, 11 of which were on target. Sweden, meanwhile, only managed nine total shots with just one on target.
Despite all of this, the U.S. was not able to turn their statistical advantage into goals, with Swedish goalkeeper Zećira Mušović proving to be a formidable roadblock for the red, white and blue.
The game then went to penalty kicks. The U.S. had the first advantage in the shootout after Nathalie Björn blasted her kick over. However, the soon-retiring Megan Rapinoe failed to capitalize on the ensuing kick, also blasting her shot over the bar.
Sweden then had the chance to equalize, but U.S. keeper Alyssa Naeher denied Rebecka Blomqvist from the spot, giving the U.S. the chance to win the game. It was not to be though as Sophia Smith put her shot wide to the right of the goal.
Sweden then equalized on the ensuing kick, and we went to sudden death. After both teams made the first few kicks of sudden death, U.S. defender Kelley O’Hara hit her shot off of the post, giving Sweden the chance to win. Lina Hurtig capitalized, sending Sweden into the quarterfinals and the U.S. back home.
This was only the USWNT’s second penalty shootout loss in World Cup history. Their only other penalty loss was to Japan in the 2011 final.
And, for those who remember, Sweden also knocked the USWNT out of the 2016 Olympics in penalty kicks in a similar game. While the U.S. likely deserved to win both of these games, Sweden did what they had to do and outlasted the U.S. when it mattered in penalties.
Despite entering the tournament as the heavy favorites, the U.S. struggled during its short stay in Australia and New Zealand. After defeating Vietnam in the opening match of the tournament, they struggled in their next two group stage games, tying both the Netherlands and Portugal.
It will be interesting to see what nation can now capitalize on the USWNT’s early departure from the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
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