The U.S. women’s national team ends its quest for a third consecutive World Cup in the Round of 16, falling 5-4 on penalties against Sweden.
While the USWNT outshot Sweden 22-9 overall, and 11-1 in shots on target, the teams remained knotted 0-0 after regulation plus 30 minutes of extra time. The USWNT scored just four goals across four World Cup matches.
Missed penalty kicks from Megan Rapinoe, Sophia Smith and Kelley O’Hara doomed the U.S. to the earliest World Cup exit it its history. In all eight previous tournaments, the USWNT had reached at least the semifinals — and had won four titles.
The USWNT took a 3-2 lead in the penalty kick shootout, but back-to-back misses from Megan Rapinoe and Sophia Smith prevented the defending champions from shutting the door on Sweden.
In the final round, Kelley O’Hara’s shot hit the post, and then Lina Hurtig had the winning tally for Sweden. USWNT goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher got a hand on Hurtig’s shot, then snatched it out of the net, but not before the ball spun up and across the goal line (as confirmed in a brief video review).
To penalty kicks! Just Women’s Sports‘ Claire Watkins provided this analysis: “If the U.S. don’t advance, the conversation won’t change much from the last week, and rightly so. But also like, this game was just a soccer game between two good teams.”
O’Hara and Mewis replace Emily Fox and Emily Sonnett, just in time for the penalty kick shootout.
The Swedish goalkeeper is having “the game of her life,” as Just Women’s Sports writer Claire Watkins put it — which makes the prospect of facing her in a penalty shootout that much scarier.
So so close for the @USWNT's Sophia Smith pic.twitter.com/hcZa7U3Mpv— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 6, 2023
So so close for the @USWNT's Sophia Smith pic.twitter.com/hcZa7U3Mpv
USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski made his second change of the match, swapping the veteran forwards. Just Women’s Sports writer Claire Watkins was “afraid he wouldn’t do this with pens in mind, but its the right way to get Pinoe on the field.”
Morgan moved into the box, then got a shot off at a tough angle, but Sweden’s Zecira Musovic made the save.
The @USWNT's Alex Morgan forcing Musovic into acton in extra time 🙌 pic.twitter.com/eBAzUuNt15— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 6, 2023
The @USWNT's Alex Morgan forcing Musovic into acton in extra time 🙌 pic.twitter.com/eBAzUuNt15
The USWNT outshot Sweden 14-7 overall (6-1 on target) through 90 minutes, but with no goals for either side, the match heads to extra time.
Get ready for 30 more minutes of action. If the score remains tied after extra time, the match will head to penalty kicks.
Alex Morgan nearly scored on a header set up by a perfect cross into the box from Lynn Williams up the right side. But Sweden goalkeeper Zecira Musovic managed another highlight-reel save.
Sweden’s Sofia Jakobsson and Lina Hurtig entered for Johanna Kaneryd and Kosovare Asllani in the 82nd minute.
ZECIRA MUSOVIC COMES UP HUGE FOR SWEDEN 🧤 pic.twitter.com/ECGLg5pRdm— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 6, 2023
ZECIRA MUSOVIC COMES UP HUGE FOR SWEDEN 🧤 pic.twitter.com/ECGLg5pRdm
While Rodman had been one of the strongest players to this point, she also was playing through an illness, so the USWNT had her on a minutes limit. Williams came off the bench to replace her on the right side.
A stinging shot from the USWNT captain is blocked by Sweden goalkeeper Zecira Musovic. Horan’s chance came between two opportunities for fellow midfielder Andi Sullivan as the USWNT continues to threaten.
🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🎥 » @FOXSoccer pic.twitter.com/x6qZlZDRu8— U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (@USWNT) August 6, 2023
🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🎥 » @FOXSoccer pic.twitter.com/x6qZlZDRu8
Despite several late chances, Rodman’s two shots on goal stood as the only ones of the half for either team. The USWNT outshot Sweden 6-2 (2-0 on target), and maintained possession for 62% of the first half.
“U.S. fans should feel much better about the shape, consistency, and stability of the USWNT,” Just Women’s Sports soccer writer Claire Watkins said. “They should not feel great that the sport being played is knockout soccer and it is tied.”
The inability to finish chances plagued the USWNT throughout the group stage, as Watkins noted. The new midfield formation showed the biggest problem to this point was the system, not the players, but the change will come to nought if the U.S. cannot get on the scoreboard.
The USWNT captain got her head on the corner kick from Andi Sullivan, but the ball bounced up off the crossbar and out of play, resulting in a Sweden goal kick.
Rodman has looked strong on the right wing for the USWNT. She beat Andersson from the outside, but her shot zipped directly toward Sweden goalkeeper Zecira Musovic.
She managed another shot soon afterward, but she sailed it over the crossbar. And then the USWNT almost found Lindsey Horan in the box for another chance in a strong stretch of play for the defending champions.
Trinity Rodman is knocking 👀@USWNT pic.twitter.com/ha0U3WIbCm— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 6, 2023
Trinity Rodman is knocking 👀@USWNT pic.twitter.com/ha0U3WIbCm
Sweden received another opportunity for one of its dangerous set pieces. Jonna Andersson’s corner kick sailed into the box, but Naeher slapped it away.
A free kick for Sweden followed minutes later. Andersson sent it into the box, but the USWNT managed to clear.
The 21-year-old got the first shot on goal of the match, but Sweden goalkeeper Zecira Musovic made the save.
Up to this point, both teams had traded opportunities, with neither dominating the run of play. With the new midfield formation, the USWNT looked more comfortable — defensive midfielder Andi Sullivan in particular.
Trinity Rodman is itching to score the United States' first 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/xtuMDzLafh— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 6, 2023
Trinity Rodman is itching to score the United States' first 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/xtuMDzLafh
Both teams are using a midfield-heavy 4-2-3-1. The surprise for the USWNT: Sonnett is the replacement for suspended Rose Lavelle in the midfield, while Ertz remains at center-back, putting each outside her typical position — though Ertz has started on the backline in every game so far.
Just Women’s Sports soccer writer Claire Watkins predicted the use of two defensive midfielders for this match, though she expected to see Ertz in the role.
The USWNT’s Round of 16 match is available to watch on Fox, Telemundo and Universo. It also can be streamed on the Fox Sports app and on Peacock. The winner of this match will face the winner of Japan-Norway (4 a.m. ET Saturday) in the quarterfinals.