Earlier today, the reigning World Cup and gold medal-winners were shockingly bounced in the quarterfinals by Sweden in penalty kicks. Though they dominated the match, the United States failed to convert on several golden opportunities, eventually succumbing to a brutal penalty shootout.
This quarterfinal loss marks the worst ever finish by a women’s team in the Olympics, as they have medaled at every other competition. In fact, the only time they didn’t win the gold medal was in 2000, when they had to settle for silver.
Throughout the match, the US had the lion’s share of the chances, with 26 shots to Sweden’s 3. They were unable to put many on goal however, and grew increasingly impatient as the game went on. This caused head coach Jill Ellis to make a number of questionable moves, including subbing on Megan Rapinoe- only to take her off when extra time came.
In the end, it came down to two missed penalties by Alex Morgan and Christen Press as the Swedes shocked the US and the World.
Obviously, the team as a whole was extremely disappointed to be going out so early, yet no one made her frustration quite as evident as goalkeeper Hope Solo. Usually the center of controversy when it comes to the USWNT, Solo again made headlines with her post game remarks, stating “We played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today…I don’t think they’re going to make it very far in the tournament.”
Sweden head coach Pia Sundhage, who coached the US from 2008 to 2012, had the perfect retort for her former goalkeeper, simply saying “I don’t give a crap. I’m going to Rio, she’s going home.”
For the US, who were in a transitional year after the departures of key players Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx, Christie Rampone, Lauren Holiday and Sydney Leroux, it will be important for the younger generation to learn and improve from this disastrous performance. While newcomers like Mallory Pugh, Crystal Dunn and Lindsay Horan performed well, the squad still lacks a core of leaders outside captain Carli Lloyd.
With now three years until the World Cup, this new-look US team needs to keep maturing and developing or risk falling behind to the rest of the world.