USA Crashes Out Of Women’s World Cup On Penalties

Us soccer

Getty Image / Robin Alam

For the US Women’s National Team, their three group stage matches of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup were a massive disappointment. The team played incredibly poorly, and finished 2nd in the group by the skin of their teeth after a Portugal shot that would’ve eliminated them in stoppage time of their final group stage game hit the post.

But, on Sunday morning against third-ranked Sweden, the USA played their best soccer of the tournament by leaps and bounds. The Stars and Stripes shut down the Swedish attack, and created a multitude of great chances.

But, soccer is a strange game. Sweden goalkeeper Zećira Mušović was sensational for 120 minutes, and the USA missed three penalties in penalties, including one that would’ve sewn up the match, as they crashed out of the Women’s World Cup in the round of 16, 0-0 (5-4).

Here are two of the better saves saves by Zećira Mušović. She had 11 saves, the most in the Women’s World Cup for a team that kept a clean sheet since at least 2011.

And, we went to penalties. After the USA scored their first three and Sweden missed their third, Megan Rapinoe stepped up to give the USA a two-goal advantage and just about put it on ice. But, she missed.

USA goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who had a fantastic tournament, and would actually end up taking and making a penalty of her own, saved the next Swedish attempt, setting up Sophia Smith with a chance to win it for the USA.

Instead, Smith probably hit the worst penalty she’s ever hit, as a player as good as her basically never does this.

In round 7, Kelly O’Hara hit the post for the USA, setting up Naeher for a must-save to keep the hopes of a third straight Women’s World Cup title alive for the USA. And, she almost did it.

It’s a match the USA dominated. They had 58% possession, 22 shots to 9, and 11 shots on goal to just 1 for Sweden. But, none of that matters now, as Sweden moves on to play Japan in Friday’s quarterfinals. It’s the earliest the USA has ever been knocked out in the first nine Women’s World Cups. In the previous nine the team had made it to at least the semifinals.