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The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) has been eliminated from the FIFA Women’s World Cup after losing in a penalty shootout to Sweden — marking the earliest exit in history for the team.
Sweden beat the United States in the round of 16 following 120 minutes of play and a dramatic penalty shootout in which the video assistant referee confirmed a shot by Sweden’s Lina Hurtig did cross the line — shocking American players and fans who thought it was saved by the American goalkeeper. The USWNT has won the tournament four times, more than any other national team, and a win this year would have marked the team’s third consecutive championship.
“We want to express our gratitude to the fans and supporters who have stood by our team. Your unwavering support means a lot to us, and we appreciate your dedication,” a USWNT statement posted to X said. “Our goal remains the same, to win. We are committed to surpassing the standard we helped to create and we will rise to meet the challenge.”
𝐕𝐀𝐑 𝐃𝐑𝐀𝐌𝐀 😲
The moment referee Stéphanie Frappart tells Lina Hurtig that her goal has gone over the line meaning that Sweden dumps out defending champions USA 5-4 on penalties! #FIFAWWC #beINWWC23 #beINSPIRED pic.twitter.com/T915Ls7KCO
— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_EN) August 6, 2023
The American women were dominant throughout much of the first 90 minutes of regulation and the two 15-minute halves of extra time, with more shots on goal. When neither side was able to gain the advantage in 30 minutes of extra time, the game went into a penalty shootout, where Sweden was able to win with five goals compared to four for the U.S. The U.S. has at least made the semifinals in all previous women’s World Cups, according to CNN.
Players Megan Rapinoe, Sophia Smith, and Kelly O’Hara all missed their penalty kicks, securing the win for Sweden, which advanced to the quarterfinals and will face Japan. Rapinoe is a controversial player who previously announced she would retire at the end of the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League season, and this could have been her last game with the national team, CNN notes.
Every single penalty from the USA-Sweden shootout ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/c5b33aOsCu
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 6, 2023
Rapinoe, a forward, told Time Magazine last month that she would “absolutely” support a man who claims he is a woman to play on the USWNT and said people like Dave Chappelle making jokes about transgender issues “directly leads to violence.”
The women’s team struggled to stay alive during the tournament, nearly losing to Portugal during the group stage, which could have sent them home. They survived and were able to advance to the round of 16 by tying Portugal.
“[USWNT], you made this sport matter,” first lady Jill Biden posted to X after the loss. “Today, you inspired us with your grit and determination. We are proud of you. Always remember that you encourage women and girls everywhere to show up and fight for their dreams.”
Striker Alex Morgan said the loss felt “like a bad dream,” adding, “I feel like we dominated, but it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, we’re going home. It’s the highs and lows of the sport of soccer. So yeah, it just doesn’t feel great.”
The American soccer team had been heavily criticized throughout the tournament, which is taking place in Australia and New Zealand, for its displays during the national anthem, in which only a few players appeared to be singing before each match. The majority of the American players stood silent with their hands away from their hearts.
Megyn Kelly, host of “The Megyn Kelly Show” podcast, blamed Rapinoe for the women’s team display during the national anthem, saying she “poisoned” the entire team against the U.S. and said she wasn’t rooting for them.
“They won’t sing the national anthem, half of them won’t put their hands over their hearts, even the ones who are singing are half-a**ing it,” Kelly said.