Sweden eliminates USA from 2023 Women's World Cup

Veteran forward Megan Rapinoe missed her penalty kick in the United States Women's National Team's Round of 16 loss to Sweden at the 2023 Women's World Cup on Sunday in Melbourne. Photo by James Ross/EPA-EFE
Veteran forward Megan Rapinoe missed her penalty kick in the United States Women's National Team's Round of 16 loss to Sweden at the 2023 Women's World Cup on Sunday in Melbourne. Photo by James Ross/EPA-EFE

Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Goalie Alyssa Naeher got a hand on the final shot of the game, but it wasn't enough, as the penalty kick by Sweden's Lina Hurtig crossed the line by a millimeter, eliminating the Americans from the Women's World Cup.

Megan Rapinoe, Sophia Smith and their U.S. teammates shed tears of sorrow as the Swedes celebrated the 5-4 penalty kick shootout victory Sunday at AAMI Park in Melbourne. The Round of 16 loss was the earliest exit in Women's World Cup history for the Americans.


"I'm just devastated," Morgan said on the Fox broadcast. "It feels like a bad dream."

The top-ranked Americans, who scored just four times in four games at the tournament, outshot the No. 3 Swedes 21-7. Sweden will meet No. 11 Japan in the quarterfinals.


"Obviously, we are proud of the way that we played," U.S. defender Julie Ertz said. "But we didn't put anything in the back of the net. Penalties were tough as well. For me, it's emotional because it's probably my last game ever being able to have the honor to wear this crest.

"It's an emotional time. It absolutely sucks. Penalties are the worst, but it's an honor to represent this team. I'm excited for the future of the girls."

Alex Morgan, Trinity Rodman and Lindsey Horan were among the Americans with the best chances throughout the scoreless regulation and extra time of the Round of 16 match.

Rodman slid through a crowd of defenders in the 18th minute to create one of the first opportunties. She ended up in the box, where she unleashed a near-post shot with her right boot. That blast was denied by Sweden goalie Zecira Musovic.

The U.S. forward ripped another attempt over the left side of the net in the 28th minute. Horan nearly drew first blood again in the 34th minute, but her header off a corner kick also was again denied by Musovic.

The Swedish goalie, who made 11 saves, blocked another stellar U.S. attempt in the 53rd minute. She jumped to her left and stretched out both arms to deny that 18-yard rocket from Horan.


Naeher blocked another close attempt by Sweden's Sofia Jakobsson in the 85th minute, keeping the game scoreless. Morgan nearly netted a header less than four minutes later.

The veteran forward added another close attempt in the first half of extra time. She raced ahead on a breakaway for that attempt. Morgan split two defenders near in the box. She then ripped a shot at the near post, but it was denied by Mosovic.

The Americans continued to threaten throughout the first and second half of extra time, but the game went on to penalties.

Andi Sullivan started the session with a low shot into the left side of the net. Sweden's Fridolina Rolfo answered by beating Naeher with a shot into the right side of the goal.

Horan stepped up to the spot for the next shot, which she ripped inside the left post. Sweden's Elin Rubensson also converted on her attempt to keep the session tied. Kristie Mewis drilled the next shot into the left side of the net to give the Americans another edge.

Nathalie Bjorn missed Sweden's next attempt. Rapinoe then failed to capitalize, firing her shot over the crossbar. Naeher saved the next shot, taken by Sweden's Rebecka Blomqvist.


Smith rifled the next U.S. attempt over the crossbar, but the Americans still held a 3-2 edge until Hanna Bennison made her shot.

Naeher sent the next attempt into the middle of the net to give a brief lead back to the Americans, but Magdalena Eriksson also converted in the sixth round.

Veteran defender Kelley O'Hara walked to the line for the final U.S. attempt. She made great contact and picked the correct side, as Mosovic went to the left, but her shot drilled the right post.

Hurtig stepped up for the last shot of the session. She fired that attempt toward the left side of the goal. Naeher blocked the shot with both hands, but the ball ricocheted straight up. It then came back down and managed to cross the goal line by the tiniest of margins before Naeher could get a hand on it for a second save.

"We just lost the World Cup by a millimeter," Naeher said. "That's tough. ... To come up short hurts. It's going to hurt for a long time."

The Americans, who were attempting to claim the first World Cup three-peat in women's or men's soccer history, didn't finish worse than third place in their previous eight tournament appearances.


"I'm so proud of the girls, on the field and everybody outside," U.S. manager Vlatko Andonovski said. "I know we were criticized for the way we played and I know we were criticized for different moments throughout the group stage. I think we came out today and showed what we are all about, our grit, resilience, fight and bravery. We showed everything that we could to win the game.

"Unfortunately, soccer can be cruel sometimes."

Sweden will take on Japan in the quarterfinals at 3:30 a.m. EDT Friday in Auckland, New Zealand. The winner will battle No. 6 Spain or the No. 9 Netherlands in the semifinals.

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