USWNT crash out of 2023 Women’s World Cup with shootout loss to Sweden

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United States’ players react after losing their Women’s World Cup round of 16 soccer match against Sweden in a penalty shootout in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

Sweden knocked the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) out of the 2023 Women’s World Cup in a penalty shootout in Melbourne on Sunday.  The 5-4 loss in spot kicks marks the earliest exit ever for the US from the tournament. 

The USWNT missed out on a quarterfinals spot by the finest of margins. Lina Hurtig’s clinching penalty was originally deemed a save by US goalie Alyssa Naeher but was ruled a goal by VAR, sending the Americans home from Australia.

Not only is it the United States’ earliest-ever exit at a Women’s World Cup, it is the earliest exit of a defending champion in Women’s World Cup history. 

In the seventh edition of this fixture in the Women’s World Cup play, nothing could separate the sides after 120 minutes of play. The US dominated possession and controlled the game but failed to convert in front of goal — a common theme throughout the group stages for Vlatko Andonovski’s side. 

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Sweden’s team celebrate after defeating the United States in a penalty shootout in their Women’s World Cup round of 16 soccer match in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

Swedish goalkeeper Zećira Mušović proved crucial to her team’s success, keeping the US scoreless for 120 minutes. She denied Trinity Rodman on multiple occasions in the first half. Her most impressive save came in the 53rd minute when Lindsey Horan drove the ball across the goalmouth forcing Mušović into a diving save. She then stopped Sophia Smith’s second-half run at goal and an Alex Morgan header attempt.  

With the sides scoreless for two hours, penalty kicks felt inevitable. Despite an uncharacteristic Megan Rapinoe penalty miss, Smith had a chance to win it for the US in sudden death. She sent her penalty soaring over the crossbar, handing Sweden a lifeline. 

The tables turned for the Swedes when Kelley O’Hara hit the post with her spot kick. Hurtig then faced Naeher, sending the ball curling toward the bottom corner. Naeher got a glove to it, however, the ball spun just over the goal line briefly, resulting in a goal and a massive result for Sweden.

The third-ranked Swedes march on after escaping the clutches of the US where they will face Japan in the quarterfinals on Aug 11.

For more on USWNT and the Women’s World Cup, visit AMNY.com