The U.S. women’s national team delivered a strong performance in the Round of 16 despite losing to Sweden 5-4 in a penalty shootout. But the stinging defeat will leave fans to dissect what went wrong in the World Cup.
The USWNT struggled in the group stage, defeating Vietnam in its opener but then playing the Netherlands and Portugal to draws. Coach Vlatko Andonovski’s team finished second in Group E, making their path to the World Cup final more difficult. That included Sunday’s matchup against Sweden, the USWNT’s longtime rivals.
"He took a very tough position coming off the back of Jill Ellis."@AriHingst and @CarliLloyd on the USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/3yvbEgcRe3— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 6, 2023
"He took a very tough position coming off the back of Jill Ellis."@AriHingst and @CarliLloyd on the USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/3yvbEgcRe3
“You have to show up from the start of a World Cup,” said Carli Lloyd, the former USWNT captain turned FOX Sports analyst. “There’s no games off. There’s no days off. And they could’ve put away chances throughout that group stage. They could’ve capitalized on wins and not going second in the group and all these different scenarios.”
Andonovski’s future will be questioned after the program’s earliest ever World Cup exit. Andonovski took over the USWNT in 2019 from Jill Ellis, who had led the team to consecutive World Cup titles.
“From 2019, we didn’t see a whole lot of change throughout the squad,” Lloyd said. “It’s just been kind of the same recurring themes: How are we creating chances? How are we finishing chances? And it’s many years of this. I don’t think the tactical question marks we’ve all had have just sprung up this World Cup and this group stage. So I think there’s definitely some tactical questions that need to be asked and a lot of evaluating.”
Lloyd, a two-time World Cup champion, has consistently criticized the USWNT’s performance throughout the tournament, leading some of her former teammates — including Abby Wambach and Ali Krieger — to come to the team’s defense.
“They should be proud of today’s performance,” Lloyd said. “But this is also going to be a very big learning curve for all of those players.”