USWNT have failed to reach the gold medal game for the first time in Olympic history, falling in penalties to Sweden.
It was a rocky start to penalties for USA, as Alex Morgan’s shot was saved on the opening attempt. Hope Solo wasn’t even close on her first two saves, giving Sweden the early advantage in the shootout. Solo made a phenomenal save on Sweden’s third attempt, deflecting a high shot over the bar. The advantage went to Sweden again when Christen Press sailed her shot over the bar, and late gamesmanship from Hope Solo couldn’t keep the Americans alive.
Carli Lloyd thought she had the game-winner in the 115th minute, but it was waved off for offsides. Seconds later, Lotta Schelin appeared to have scored the winning goal for Sweden, but she was controversially also ruled offsides.
After a quiet first half, Sweden stunned the Americans with a goal on the counter. Stina Blackstenius got behind the back line, and her low shot past Hope Solo had USA in line for elimination. But the Americans responded, and tied the match with a close-range shot from Alex Morgan.
Sweden had intended to “park the bus” from the beginning, but taking the lead forced action from Pia Sundhage’s squad. Earlier in the week, Sundhage, who won two gold medals as manager of USWNT in 2008 and 2012, acknowledged that “all the pressure” was on the Americans to advance. But after a Sweden goal, play opened up and the Americans took advantage. Players like Crystal Dunn, Mallory Pugh and Morgan all made dangerous runs in the later minutes of the match.
It was a risky move, but bringing on Megan Rapinoe paid off for manager Jill Ellis. Rapinoe was carried off the field with a torn ACL only 252 days ago, but brought her dangerous crossing game onto the field in the 73rd minute for USA.
Sweden advances to the semifinals on Sunday against either Brazil or Australia.