In the first major tournament since their return to World Cup glory, the USWNT fell far short of expectations, as the #1 ranked team in the world fell in the quarterfinals to Pia Sundhage’s Sweden in PKs.
While the US held plenty of possession and chances, they were by no means dominant, having to come back late to equalize from a 1-0 deficit and then barely holding on in extra time, which included a Lotta Schelin goal that was incorrectly called back as offside.
In penalties, it was the two most dangerous American attackers who fell short. Alex Morgan’s shot was saved and Christen Press put hers well over the bar. The Reign’s Hope Solo saved Linda Sembrant’s shot to make up for one of those misses, but in the fifth round after attempting to ice Lisa Dahlkvist by changing out her gloves she guessed the wrong way and the Americans’ Olympic run was over.
The match’s first goal came on a Sweden counter when Stina Blackstenius got behind a high US defensive line and beat Solo one-on-one in the 61st minute. Megan Rapinoe was subbed on shortly thereafter and she sparked the attack that led to the equalizer, when a Swedish defensive mistake dropped the ball right in front of Alex Morgan to finish in the 77th, with that 1-1 score holding until penalties.
Rapinoe was subbed back out in the 99th, which will surely raise questions about whether she was fit enough to be playing after a long recovery from a torn ACL.
The silver lining to the loss is that the USWNT players will be returning to the US sooner than expected, and should have plenty of rest before NWSL play picks up again at the end of the month. Though now we face the specter of an already scheduled ‘victory tour’ for a team that fell very short of the victory they were supposed to be celebrating.