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Women's World Cup Recap: United States 0 (4) - Sweden 0 (5)
The United States' quest for a third-consecutive World Cup title has reached a premature end.
The United States Women’s National Team returned to action Friday morning as they faced Sweden inside Melbourne Rectangular Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.
The U.S. entered the knockout stage after finishing second in Group E with five points on a 1-2-0 record. The Stars and Stripes opened the group stage with a 3-0 shutout victory over Vietnam, followed by a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands. The U.S. concluded the group stage with a scoreless draw against Portugal.
Sweden came into the knockout stage after finishing atop Group G with wins in all three group-stage matches and ending with a plus-eight goal differential. Amanda Ilestedt’s 90th-minute goal propelled Sweden to a 2-1 win over South Africa in their group-stage opener. Sweden secured a dominant 5-0 win over Italy before picking up a 2-0 victory over Argentina in their group stage finale.
Vlatko Andonovski made two changes to the lineup, as Alyssa Naeher started in goal with Crystal Dunn, Emily Sonnett, Naomi Girma, and Emily Fox forming the backline. Lindsey Horan, Andi Sullivan, and Julie Ertz were in the midfield, while Sophia Smith, Alex Morgan, and Trinity Rodman provided the attack.
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Rodman strapped the United States to her back in the 18th minute as she received the ball in the midfield and proceeded to slice her way through the ensuing Swedish defense. Rodman created space and sent a shot on goal, but Zećira Mušović came up with the save. Rodman again nearly found the net in the 27th minute as she generated space, but again, Zećira Mušović came up with the save.
Sonnett came up huge for the United States in the 30th minute. Sweden drove down the right flank and lobbed a cross to the center of the box. Just as it looked like the cross would land at the feet of a Swedish attacker, Sonnett stepped in to clear the ball away from danger.
Despite some good chances, neither side found the back of the net as things remained scoreless entering halftime.
Vlatko Andonovski’s first substitution came in the 65th minute as Lynn Williams came on for Rodman. It was a planned substitution, as Rodman had been battling illness leading up to the match.
Sofia Jakobson registered Sweden’s first shot on target in the 85th minute as she sent a left-footed strike at Alyssa Naeher. Naeher was all over it as she batted it down and scooped the ball up.
Morgan nearly became the hero in the 89th minute as Williams sent a cross centrally. Morgan headed the ball on frame, but Zećira Mušović stood on her head and made the save to keep the game level as the final whistle sounded. With neither side finding the back of the net, we headed to extra time. Megan Rapinoe entered the match in the 99th minute as she came on for Morgan.
The final US substitutions of the game came in the 120th minute as Kelley O’Hara and Kristie Mewis came on for Sonnett and Fox.
After 30 minutes of extra time, both sides remained deadlocked in a scoreless draw as we headed to a penalty shootout. The United States won the coin toss as they elected to go first in the shootout.
Lina Hurtig stepped to the spot with the chance of being Sweden’s hero as a goal would propel them on and send the U.S. packing. Hurtig sent a right-footed shot centrally but Naeher got her hands to it.
Unfortunately, she failed to grasp the ball as it ricocheted into the air and sailed toward the goal line. Naeher swatted the ball again and cleared it away.
Both sides waited with bated breath as the play was sent to video review. Following a video review, the referee ruled that the deflection off Naeher’s hands narrowly crossed the goal line as Sweden received the shootout-winning goal.
Friday's loss marks the first time in USWNT history they failed to finish top three in a World Cup. Friday’s loss also brought Megan Rapinoe’s legendary national team career to an end. Rapinoe finishes her international career with 63 goals and 73 assists over 201 appearances and two Women’s World Cup titles!
The United States begins preparations for the 2027 Women’s World Cup on September 21st, as they will host South Africa inside TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, at 7:30 PM ET on TNT.