USA were eliminated early from the World Cup by Sweden following an exciting penalty shootout matchup, due to poor finishing and failing to create chances. Coach Vlatko Andonovski saw his side fail due to an inability to finish chances created against them.
Alyssa Naeher makes an amazing save to deny Lina Hurtig but her effort goes over the line and Sweden advances.
Alyssa Naeher made a spectacular save
Naeher epitomized the goalkeeper spirit that earned her recognition with the United Women’s National Team. Although typically reserved, Naeher is capable of producing big saves at crucial moments when her team needs them most.
As Sweden attempted multiple set pieces against them, she stood her ground and blocked multiple shots from Sweden’s set pieces – her best moment being an incredible leaping save from Sofia Jakobsson from just outside of the six-yard box in the 89th minute.
Even as USA players missed their penalties in the shootout, Naeher remained in control. She made a diving save to deny Magdalena Eriksson before watching Megan Rapinoe and Sophia Smith miss their kicks as well as Kelley O’Hara sending her shot crashing off the post, giving Hurtig the final opportunity to seal victory for Sweden and end this chapter for them; Hurtig did just that, ending American hopes early. Follow Nancy Armour on Twitter for all the latest tournament updates!
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Sweden’s goalkeeper made 11 saves
The United Soccer Women National Team had plenty of chances throughout their match, yet couldn’t capitalize. Trinity Rodman ventured into the area in the 18th minute but her shot was saved by Zecira Musovic. Musovic then stopped Lindsey Horan’s strike in 27th minute as well as Alex Morgan’s effort in second-half stoppage time.
Emily Sonnett and Julie Ertz made crucial stops at the back, while Americans almost scored when Horan’s header off Andi Sullivan’s corner hit the crossbar – their best chance for scoring that night. Unfortunately for them though, that may have been it – their opponent proved too powerful and held off until Horan could head home his shot off Andi Sullivan’s corner kick hit it again instead. Unfortunately that would prove their last opportunity at scoring.
On the seventh penalty kick, Hurtig’s low shot just slipped under the crossbar and across the line to send Sweden through to the quarterfinals. Megan Rapinoe and Sophia Smith missed their kicks, while Kelley O’Hara hit the post – giving an agonizing exit for Americans who were considered strong contenders of winning another World Cup crown this time around.
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Megan Rapinoe and Sophia Smith missed penalties
Even though the United States Women’s National Team played their best game at this World Cup, it wasn’t enough to avoid an early exit. After falling to Sweden 5-4 in a penalty shootout Sunday afternoon, Megan Rapinoe and Sophia Smith both missed in this shootout, won by Lina Hurtig.
Rapinoe’s penalty miss was particularly disappointing; she has been one of USA’s most reliable players over recent years and consistently contributed during regulation and extra time, yet her penalty kick was well over the crossbar.
Some on the right of the political spectrum were happy to see her defeat, dubbing her “a woke piece of trash.” She has long spoken out against conservative causes while supporting LGBTQ rights. Additionally, in 2016, she kneeled during the national anthem in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick.
Kelley O’Hara’s penalty hit the post
Rose Lavelle earned herself two yellow cards after tripping Portugal’s Dolores Silva, forcing the USWNT into penalty shootout. Unfortunately, this costlier mistake meant they couldn’t win on penalties either.
O’Hara had the chance to give the USA another lifeline in the shootout but her shot ricocheted off of the post instead allowing Sweden to advance and face Japan in quarter-finals due to Lina Hurtig’s winning penalty kick.
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O’Hara made an immediate impact after replacing injured Megan Rapinoe in the starting XI, providing constant threat down the right flank and setting up Christen Press for her opening goal. Her shots were mostly blocked or punched away by Sweden goalkeeper Zecira Musovic; nearly scoring from another set-piece opportunity but her header off Andi Sullivan’s corner came back off the crossbar instead.