It was always going to be tough for the United States to achieve its lofty goal of a historic, unparalleled three-peat in women’s soccer, given the country’s lengthy history of supremacy in the sport.
It is incredibly difficult to win three consecutive championships at the professional club level in any sport. When it comes to international soccer, it is even more difficult to win three consecutive World Cups in either the men’s or women’s games.
Motivational decline and time constraints are the two major hindrances to long-term athletic achievement. The years spanning World Cup seasons simply ratchet up the stress, since maintaining success over an extended period of time requires an extraordinary amount of work, ability, and persistent enthusiasm.
The US women’s team made an effort to maintain an important championship core together and healthy for three straight years after winning the 2015 World Cup. Professional teams find it difficult enough to achieve this with club teams. Only five players from the 2015 tournament team made up the famous generation of players that won that competition.
Devastating Losses in the Women’s World Cup
The United States run at the Women’s World Cup has come to an end after suffering the most devastating of losses. With a dramatic penalty shootout victory on Sunday in Melbourne, Sweden eliminated the two-time defending champions and prevented them from making history by winning a third straight global championship.
Referee Stéphanie Frappart, after consulting the VAR, ruled that Lina Hurtig’s penalty had gone over the line, despite the fact that Alyssa Naeher of the United States got a touch on the ball and seemed to save it.
In the aftermath of their 5-4 penalty shootout victory against the United States, Sweden’s players celebrated with jubilation as the Americans shed tears. This was the earliest the United States had ever been eliminated from a Women’s World Cup.
Coach Vlatko Andonovski was “so proud of the team, of the women on the field,” after the game. I am aware of the criticism we received at the group stage for our play and certain incidents. I believe that today we showed the tenacity, fortitude, and courage that define us as a team.
After 90 minutes of normal time and 30 minutes of extra time, neither team was able to break the deadlock; therefore, the game was settled by penalty kicks.
Megan Rapinoe, who played in her final major tournament for the United States, had the opportunity to put the Americans ahead in the shootout after Sweden’s Nathalie Björn failed from the spot, but Rapinoe, who is typically the most dependable of penalty takers, failed the chance to offer Sweden hope again.
Rebecka Blomqvist of Sweden as well as Sophia Smith of the United States both went on to miss the same position at 4-4, The United States brought in replacement Kelley O’Hara, whose shot struck the post and set up a game-winning opportunity for Sweden’s Lotta Hurtig.
When a team is on the verge of making history, the stakes are higher, and every setback is scrutinized in minute detail. The pressure to become the first nation to win 3 consecutive World Cups was too much, but the United States’ greatest effort of the tournament provides some consolation in the loss.
This will be a humbling experience for a nation that has been a leader in women’s soccer for decades since the United States has never previously failed to advance to the semifinals of a World Cup.
The United States national team was the most dominant side of its age as it achieved its second consecutive championship four years ago, but circumstances have altered and the game has progressed since then.
The difficulties that the American team has had in this competition have been the subject of a lot of writing. Only one of the teams in the group stage managed to earn a win, and it was against Portugal that the goalpost came to the team’s rescue. This goalpost stopped Portugal from striking a late winner, which would have terminated the United States’ participation in this championship.
The fact that Sweden’s goalie, Zeira Muovi, was the team’s most valuable player reveals a lot about how the game went. The fact that the Swedes had just three touches on the opponent’s penalty goal in the first half and that the replacement was Sofia Jakobsson. She got its first shot on target in the 85th minute, which says a lot about how well the winning side performed.
However, Sweden is the team that advances to the round of eight and will compete against Japan on Friday. Competing in a sport requires mental and physical toughness.
There were substitutions for the eleven players who started for the United States of America versus Portugal. Trinity Rodman and Emily Sonnett were brought onto the field, with Sonnett playing an important part in the defense of the team’s midfield when Andonovski shifted the line-up to a five-player midfield.
The new starting lineup turned in the strongest performances in the first half, and as the match went on, the United States got more comfortable in control of the ball. However, for a team that is rated #3 in worldwide rankings, Sweden did not put the competition through much of a challenge.
Due to their superior ball control and ability to create numerous scoring opportunities—the majority of which came from Rodman, who repeatedly forced Muovi to make stops with long-range shots—the United States had the upper hand in the first half.
The closest either team got to breaking the deadlock was 34 minutes in when US substitutes sprang to their feet after captain Lindsey Horan’s header from a corner struck the crossbar.
The longer the game went on, the tenser the situation grew, as is typical in knockout matchups on a grand platform.
Muovi made a fantastic diving save to prevent Horan from scoring shortly after the game resumed, and she again saved Sweden’s bacon when she stopped Alex Morgan from scoring a goal a few minutes before the game’s end.
Morgan and Smith, who had a chance to score from close range in the 107th minute after regulation time ended, did not faze Muovi.
Despite having a lot of the ball and making a lot of runs toward the Swedish goal, the United States was not able to score too often. Being the final match, penalties were used to choose a victor, leaving the loser to suffer the ultimate heartbreak.