Under an ink black Australian sky above Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, the Women’s World Cup recreation between the United States and Sweden on Sunday went on and on and on. For 120 minutes, it went on as the groups tried unsuccessfully to attain, with practically 28,000 followers so nervous that they might solely muster a simmer of cheers. Until penalty kicks turned up the quantity and determined all of it.
That’s when the United States’ latest dominance in the World Cup totally ended, and the Americans had been left surprised and devastated by their worst exhibiting at the quadrennial event. They had arrived as the favorites after profitable two consecutive championships, in 2015 and 2019. But on Sunday, in the spherical of 16, three missed penalty kicks and a razor-thin aim by Sweden modified their destiny.
Sophia Smith, who missed a possibility to win for the United States, needed to be consoled by her teammates as she sat on the area in tears. Kelley O’Hara, in her fourth World Cup, stormed by reporters and stared straight forward in silence after the recreation, moments after her penalty kick hit the proper submit and bounced away.
And Megan Rapinoe, the outspoken and completed U.S. ahead who had been relegated to a reserve at this World Cup, grew teary when discussing that her worldwide profession would finish along with her lacking a penalty kick, calling it “a sick joke.” Just every week in the past, Rapinoe was requested what the crew’s legacy could be if it did not win the world title but once more. She answered, “I haven’t thought about that.”
Now she gained’t neglect it. Sweden gained the shootout, 5-4, to get rid of the United States.
Alex Morgan, the star U.S. ahead, known as it “a bad dream.”
“I’m really disappointed with myself, and I wish I could have provided more with this team,” 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 whole event.
Julie Ertz, who rushed again to the crew after having a baby a year ago, mentioned it was candy to see her son in the stands after the match. “But it still hurts to lose a game like that,” she mentioned. She walked off, wiping the moist, smeared mascara from below her eyes.
It all got here aside for the United States in a flurry of 14 kicks. Here’s how they unfolded, feelings included:
Andi Sullivan, the midfielder, is up first to face Sweden’s goalkeeper, Zecira Musovic, along 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 aim. Sullivan spins again towards her teammates and pumps a fist. The crowd 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 crew for 10 years, is up first for Sweden towards goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher a few month after profitable the Champions League with Barcelona. She sends the ball into the proper aspect of the web, her blond ponytail swinging behind her. She flexes her arms and opens her mouth extensive to shout in celebration, and the Swedish followers, many clad in vivid yellow and sitting proper behind the aim, explode into cheers. U.S. 1, Sweden 1.
One of the U.S. co-captains, Lindsey Horan, has a well-recognized, ferocious “don’t mess with me” look on her face. It’s the look she had simply earlier than she scored the equalizer in the 1-1 tie versus the Netherlands in the group stage. It’s a lot harder than the softer method she took for a lot of final week along with her teammates, as she inspired the 14 World Cup rookies, one by one, to play with extra confidence. The Swedish followers are booing her, competing with the U.S. cheers. But Horan is steely and delivers the ball exactly to the left aspect, rocketing it into the web. 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 an exquisite place to place the ball into the web. 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, gained the World Cup title with the United States in 2019. The elder Mewis exhales onerous earlier than she shoots along with her left foot and sends the ball into the proper aspect of the aim. The stadium begins to rumble. U.S. 3, Sweden 2.
The followers are beginning to suppose this may by no means finish. Nathalie Bjorn, the proper again for Sweden, tries to shoot into the left nook, however the ball has different concepts. It goes flying over the aim and the Sweden followers sigh in unison. She buries her face in her fingers. The momentum has modified. Peter Gerhardsson, Sweden’s coach, says after the recreation: “You’re just waiting. You want it to be over, and you want it to go your way.” U.S. 3, Sweden 2.
The U.S. followers go wild when Megan Rapinoe walks up. She had are available in for Morgan in its place and was certain the ball would go straight into the again of the web, simply because it had so many occasions earlier than, together with in the remaining of the 2019 World Cup. This is her remaining World Cup, her fourth one, after she introduced in July that she would retire this 12 months. But now, her shot isn’t even shut.
She sends the ball flying over the aim. On the method again to her crew, she smiles as a result of she simply can’t consider it. This is how a world profession ends? She thinks she final missed a penalty kick possibly in 2018.
“That’s some dark humor, me missing,” she says after the recreation. “I feel like I joke too often, always in the wrong places and inappropriately, so maybe this is ha-ha at the end.” 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 United States scored solely 4 targets at this World Cup, and ahead Sophia Smith scored half of them. She can win it for the U.S. crew, and takes her time establishing. When she connects with the ball, it soars over the proper aspect of the submit. The win was there for the taking, and she or he couldn’t seize it. She buries her face in her black-gloved fingers. She won’t be the star in the present day. Horan tells her later: “The best players in the world miss.” Smith explains to reporters later: “But you’ve got to remember, this is part of football. You get back up and it’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt for forever.” U.S. 3, Sweden 2.
Hanna Bennison, an alternative to Sweden, has an opportunity to save lots of her crew from what had seemed like catastrophe. She scores, sending her crew right into a frenzy. Gerhardsson says later: “Accept that you are nervous, so that being nervous doesn’t make you more 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 up Musovic, her counterpart. Her shot goes smack into the center of the aim after Musovic guesses flawed. U.S. 4, Sweden 3.
Magdalena Eriksson, a seasoned middle again, wants to attain to maintain Sweden alive. And she 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 desires to win this recreation and this event and has rallied her crew to have faith that it’ll do each. But her shot bounces off the proper submit and away alongside the baseline.
Sweden’s followers begin to social gathering, waving their blue-and-yellow flags and dancing. Naeher says she feels horrible for her teammates who missed: “They’ve trained for it. They’ve prepared for it. And, you know, unfortunately, those things happen. My heart hurts for them.” Sweden 4, U.S. 4.
Lina Hurtig, the ahead who scored when Sweden humbled the United States at the Tokyo Olympics, can win it. She shoots towards the left aspect of the aim. Naeher leaps for it, hitting it as soon as with each fingers to make it fly upward. The ball goes up, and Naeher hits it once more along with her proper arm whereas on the floor, stretched backward, to maintain it out of the aim.
Did it go in, in any case? Naeher insists she saved it. Hurtig raises her arms, and shadows the referee, Stéphanie Frappart, to make her case for a aim. The play is reviewed with cameras and monitoring expertise.
Then Frappart waves her arms: The recreation is over; it’s dominated a aim. Hurtig takes off towards her teammates and the Swedish gamers run onto the area to rejoice.
The ball, certainly, had crossed fully into the aim, in accordance with the replay system. By the appears to be like of it, the margin could also be a millimeter. “I thought I had it. Unfortunately it must have just slipped in. But that’s tough. Ugh, we just lost the World Cup. It’s heartbreak,” Naeher says. Sweden 5, U.S. 4.