How the U.S. Was Eliminated From the Women’s World Cup, Shot by Shot

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Beneath an ink black Australian sky above Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, the Girls’s World Cup sport between america and Sweden on Sunday went on and on and on. For 120 minutes, it went on because the groups tried unsuccessfully to attain, with almost 28,000 followers so nervous that they may solely muster a simmer of cheers. Till penalty kicks turned up the quantity and determined all of it.

That’s when america’ latest dominance within the World Cup absolutely ended, and the Individuals have been left surprised and devastated by their worst displaying on the quadrennial event. That they had arrived because the favorites after profitable two consecutive championships, in 2015 and 2019. However on Sunday, within the spherical of 16, three missed penalty kicks and a razor-thin purpose by Sweden modified their destiny.

Sophia Smith, who missed a possibility to win for america, needed to be consoled by her teammates as she sat on the sphere in tears. Kelley O’Hara, in her fourth World Cup, stormed by reporters and stared straight forward in silence after the sport, moments after her penalty shot hit the precise publish and bounced away.

And Megan Rapinoe, the outspoken and achieved U.S. ahead who had been relegated to a reserve at this World Cup, grew teary when discussing that her worldwide profession would finish together with her lacking a penalty kick, calling it “a sick joke.” Only a week in the past, Rapinoe was requested what the workforce’s legacy can be if it didn’t win the world title but once more. She answered, “I haven’t considered that.”

Now she received’t neglect it. Sweden received the shootout, 5-4, to get rid of america.

Alex Morgan, the star U.S. ahead, referred to as it “a foul dream.”

I’m actually disenchanted with myself, and I want I might have supplied extra with this workforce,” mentioned Morgan, who was on the bench for the shootouts as a result of she had been changed by Rapinoe earlier. She didn’t rating throughout the complete event.

Julie Ertz, who rushed again to the workforce after having a child a yr in the past, mentioned it was candy to see her son within the stands after the match. “However it nonetheless hurts to lose a sport like that,” she mentioned. She walked off, wiping the moist, smeared mascara from below her eyes.

All of it got here aside for america in a flurry of 14 kicks. Right here’s how they unfolded, feelings included:

Andi Sullivan, the midfielder, is up first to face Sweden’s goalkeeper, Zecira Musovic, together with her teammates lined up behind her, many arm in arm. She walks over to the spot with the dying stare of a gunslinger, then nails the shot into the decrease left of the purpose. Sullivan spins again towards her teammates and pumps a fist. The group lastly comes alive and chants: “U-S-A! U-S-A!” U.S. 1, Sweden 0.

Fridolina Rolfo, a 5-foot-10 ahead who has been on the nationwide workforce for 10 years, is up first for Sweden in opposition to goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher a few month after profitable the Champions League with Barcelona. She sends the ball into the precise facet of the online, her blond ponytail swinging behind her. She flexes her arms and opens her mouth huge to shout in celebration, and the Swedish followers, many clad in vivid yellow and sitting proper behind the purpose, explode into cheers. U.S. 1, Sweden 1.

One of many U.S. co-captains, Lindsey Horan, has a well-known, ferocious “don’t mess with me” look on her face. It’s the look she had simply earlier than she scored the equalizer within the 1-1 tie versus the Netherlands within the group stage. It’s a lot more durable than the softer method she took for a lot of final week together with her teammates, as she inspired the 14 World Cup rookies, one after the other, to play with extra confidence. The Swedish followers are booing her, competing with the U.S. cheers. However Horan is steely and delivers the ball exactly to the left facet, rocketing it into the online. U.S. 2, Sweden 1.

Elin Rubensson, a midfielder who returned to soccer simply two months after having a child in 2020, evidently decides that Horan picked a beautiful place to place the ball into the online. So she sends the ball there, too — and Naeher can’t get to it. U.S. 2, Sweden 2.

Up subsequent is Kristie Mewis, whose little sister, Sam, received the World Cup title with america in 2019. The elder Mewis exhales arduous earlier than she shoots together with her left foot and sends the ball into the precise facet of the purpose. The stadium begins to rumble. U.S. 3, Sweden 2.

The followers are beginning to assume this may by no means finish. Nathalie Bjorn, the precise again for Sweden, tries to shoot into the left nook, however the ball has different concepts. It goes flying over the purpose and the Sweden followers sigh in unison. She buries her face in her palms. The momentum has modified. Peter Gerhardsson, Sweden’s coach, says after the sport: “You’re simply ready. You need it to be over, and also you need it to go your method.” U.S. 3, Sweden 2.

The U.S. followers go wild when Megan Rapinoe walks up. She had are available for Morgan instead and was positive the ball would go straight into the again of the online, simply because it had so many instances earlier than, together with within the closing of the 2019 World Cup. That is her closing World Cup, her fourth one, after she introduced in July that she would retire this yr. However now, her shot isn’t even shut.

She sends the ball flying over the purpose. On the best way again to her workforce, she smiles as a result of she simply can’t imagine it. That is how a global profession ends? She thinks she final missed a penalty shot perhaps in 2018.

“That’s some darkish humor, me lacking,” she says after the sport. “I really feel like I joke too typically, all the time within the unsuitable locations and inappropriately, so perhaps that is ha-ha on the finish.” U.S. 3, Sweden 2.

Sweden’s Rebecka Blomqvist shoots and Naeher makes a superhero-like dive to knock the shot down. U.S. 3, Sweden 2.

The USA scored solely 4 objectives at this World Cup, and ahead Sophia Smith scored half of them. She will win it for the U.S. workforce, and takes her time establishing. When she connects with the ball, it soars over the precise facet of the publish. The win was there for the taking, and he or she couldn’t seize it. She buries her face in her black-gloved palms. She won’t be the star in the present day. Horan tells her later: “The perfect gamers on the earth miss.” Smith explains to reporters later: “However you’ve received to recollect, that is a part of soccer. You get again up and it’s going to harm. It’s going to harm for perpetually.” U.S. 3, Sweden 2.

Hanna Bennison, an alternative choice to Sweden, has an opportunity to save lots of her workforce from what had seemed like catastrophe. She scores, sending her workforce right into a frenzy. Gerhardsson says later: “Settle for that you’re nervous, in order that being nervous doesn’t make you extra nervous.” U.S. 3, Sweden 3.

There’s a rumble amongst U.S. followers after they see who’s taking the subsequent shot: It’s Alyssa Naeher, the goalkeeper. She has flipped the change in her head and is now taking over Musovic, her counterpart. Her shot goes smack into the center of the purpose after Musovic guesses unsuitable. U.S. 4, Sweden 3.

Magdalena Eriksson, a seasoned heart again, wants to attain to maintain Sweden alive. And she or he delivers to the higher proper nook. Sweden 4, U.S. 4.

It’s as much as Kelley O’Hara, in her fourth World Cup. She sprints to the spot. She needs to win this sport and this event and has rallied her workforce to have faith that it’s going to do each. However her shot bounces off the precise publish and away alongside the baseline.

Sweden’s followers begin to occasion, waving their blue-and-yellow flags and dancing. Naeher says she feels horrible for her teammates who missed: “They’ve educated for it. They’ve ready for it. And, you recognize, sadly, these issues occur. My coronary heart hurts for them.” Sweden 4, U.S. 4.

Lina Hurtig, the ahead who scored when Sweden humbled america on the Tokyo Olympics, can win it. She shoots towards the left facet of the purpose. Naeher leaps for it, hitting it as soon as with each palms to make it fly upward. The ball goes up, and Naeher hits it once more together with her proper arm whereas on the bottom, stretched backward, to maintain it out of the purpose.

Did it go in, in spite of everything? Naeher insists she saved it. Hurtig raises her arms, and shadows the referee, Stéphanie Frappart, to make her case for a purpose. The play is reviewed with cameras and monitoring expertise.

Then Frappart waves her arms: The sport is over; it’s dominated a purpose. Hurtig takes off towards her teammates and the Swedish gamers run onto the sphere to have fun.

The ball, certainly, had crossed fully into the purpose, based on the replay system. By the seems of it, the margin could also be a millimeter. “I believed I had it. Sadly it should have simply slipped in. However that’s powerful. Ugh, we simply misplaced the World Cup. It’s heartbreak,” Naeher says. Sweden 5, U.S. 4.

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