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Kelley O’Hara addresses USWNT huddle first after Portugal dud

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Kelley O'Hara applauds fans after the USWNT's scoreless draw against Portugal to close out the World Cup group stage. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Following the U.S. women’s national team’s disappointing draw with Portugal, the first person to address the team was not head coach Vlatko Andonovski. Instead, it was Kelley O’Hara, who gave a spirited speech in the postgame huddle.

The USWNT will advance out of Group E, albeit in a limping fashion. While the Netherlands blew out Vietnam 7-0, the U.S. looked lackluster in its 0-0 draw with Portugal. The second-place finish for the USWNT likely means a Round of 16 meeting with Sweden, another World Cup title favorite.

When asked about what she told the team, O’Hara stressed the importance of looking forward to the Round of 16 rather than back at the disappointing group stage.

“I told the team: Listen, we did what we had to do. We’re moving on. Group stage is done. This is over, it’s in the rear view,” she told Fox Sports after the match. “We have our next game in front of us, and that’s the only one that matters. Maybe we didn’t do it the way we wanted to or planned on doing it, but we’re dancing, and this is the World Cup and that’s all that matters. We’ve got to be looking forward and only focused on that.”

The 34-year-old defender echoed that sentiment in the mixed media zone, noting that the team will need to take what it can from the group stage and learn from it moving forward.

“We did what we had to do. We advanced out of our group,” she said. “And that’s the World Cup, and that’s the name of the game. … It’s not gonna be pretty. It’s not gonna be perfect. It’s not gonna go exactly how you planned, but that’s what makes [the World Cup] so exciting and so unique.”

Even still, finishing as Group E runner-up is a tough pill to swallow. The USWNT last finished as group runner-up in 2011, when the team lost to Sweden in the group stage. And it makes road to a World Cup three-peat that much tougher.

“It’s tough to be second. We wanted to go through first,” veteran striker Alex Morgan said. “This team gave everything, we just didn’t put the ball in the back of the net and in the last few minutes we just had to hold it down, we had to get the result and move on. Now we look forward.”