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US exits World Cup, marking the end of an era

Updated: Aug 6, 2023

The era of American supremacy in women's soccer has come to an end following the exit of the US team from the World Cup in a captivating penalty shoot-out against Sweden.

The era of United States' supremacy in women's soccer has concluded as the reigning champions were eliminated from the World Cup through a gripping penalty shootout against Sweden on Sunday, August 6. This heartrending exit marks the end of Megan Rapinoe's international career and sparks inquiries about the future direction of the team.

The United States had emerged victorious in the previous two Women's World Cups and had clinched four out of the eight championships prior to this year's event. They had never been eliminated before the semi-final stage. However, this time they have been ousted in the round of 16, securing only one victory in Australia and New Zealand, which was an unconvincing 3-0 win against Vietnam.

Vlatko Andonovski's team followed this with a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands, the same squad they defeated in the 2019 final. They managed to secure a draw against Portugal, securing their spot in the knockout phase. It's important not to overly criticize the US team, considering their dominant performance against Sweden, where they controlled the game but were prevented from winning within regular time due to remarkable saves by the opposing goalkeeper, Zecira Musovic.

"We put up a fight, a battle, and represented this country. We showed what we stand for and we did everything right," expressed a disheartened Andonovski following the 5-4 shootout loss in Melbourne, which ensued after a goalless 120 minutes.

Nevertheless, the reality is that this tournament has been a significant disappointment for the top-ranked team globally, underscoring the leveling of the playing field worldwide. The US had previously faced penalty shootout defeat against Japan in the 2011 final before triumphing over the same opponents 5-2 in the 2015 final.

Their successful defense of the title in France four years ago was accompanied by signs of impending challenges, as they encountered a rising European competition. In the 2019 World Cup, they were the sole non-European team to reach the quarter-finals. Over the intervening period, women's soccer in Europe has significantly progressed, reaching a point where the US no longer holds a significant lead.

"We stated before the tournament that this World Cup would be the most competitive," commented US captain Lindsey Horan."

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