The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) was beaten by Sweden 4–5 on penalties after the teams were locked at 0–0 at the end of extra time on Sunday and knocked out of the Women’s World Cup.
“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,” USWNT wrote in a statement. “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 challenges.”
It was the first exit before the semi-finals in nine World Cups for the Americans, who had arrived at the tournament looking for an unprecedented third consecutive title.
U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said the team had been practicing penalties for the last nine months.
“I know we were criticized for the way we played. … I think we came out today and were all about the grit, the resilience,” he said.
“Unfortunately, soccer can be cruel sometimes. For it to go to penalties and to end in that fashion, with the confusion at the end.”
Winners of the last two World Cups in France and Canada, the United States slumped to their quickest exit, having made the semifinals or better in all eight previous editions.
In a madcap shootout, Lina Hurtig struck the winning spot-kick, though U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher parried the ball on the line and the result needed to be confirmed by VAR.
Sophia Smith had had the chance to win the match for the four-time champion Americans but blasted the ball over the bar.
Sweden goalkeeper Zecira Musovic emerged as the hero, having kept the Scandinavians in the match, making 11 saves before the shootout to deny the Americans.
“We’re so happy right now,” Sweden captain Magda Eriksson said in a radio interview. “I don’t know how we managed to stay in this game.
“We didn’t play our best game, but in some way, we showed we’re hard-headed, we showed heart, we never give up. We took it to extra time, we took it to penalties and we managed to win,” she said.
Reuters contributed to the report.
From The Epoch Times