USWNT Eliminated By Sweden In Rio Olympics Soccer Quarterfinals Thriller

The USWNT was eliminated by Sweden in the soccer quarterfinals of the Rio Olympics Friday morning. The game between the USWNT and Sweden seemed pre-destined for penalty kicks as it remained scoreless up until the sixty-first minute of the game when Sweden’s Blackstenius slid the ball past a diving Hope Solo. Sixteen minutes later, the USWNT’s Alex Morgan answered with a goal of her own setting the soccer match up for a 1-1 draw.

USWNT's Alex Morgan and Mallory Pugh celebrate the equalizing goal in regulation time of the Olympic soccer quarterfinals. Photo by Celso Junior/Getty Images.
USWNT’s Alex Morgan and Mallory Pugh celebrate the equalizing goal in regulation time of the Olympic soccer quarterfinals. Photo by Celso Junior/Getty Images.

But this was the Olympic soccer quarterfinals, not preliminary play in which the USWNT could be content to settle for a draw as they did against Colombia earlier in the week. Beginning with the quarterfinals, teams who don’t win are eliminated from moving on in the Olympic competition, and that’s just what happened to the USWNT.

As the game went into double overtime, both Sweden and the USWNT fought hard to pursue that soccer Olympic gold, according to The Guardian. A goal scored by USWNT’s Carli Lloyd was called back in the 115 minute. Not thirty seconds later, Sweden would also find a goal called back, undoubtedly keeping soccer and Olympic fans on the edge of their seats.

As overtime ended in a draw, the USWNT and Sweden would be set to face off in penalty kicks. While the USWNT might have felt confident of their chances considering they have someone who is considered the top Women’s soccer goalkeeper in the world in Hope Solo, fans were a little concerned given Solo’s haphazard play against Colombia, as well as some shakiness witnessed earlier in the game versus Sweden in which Solo took a backpass from USWNT’s Sauerbrunn and nearly kicked it straight to a Swedish forward.

But this time it wasn’t Solo who would come up short for the USWNT. USWNT forward Alex Morgan started the penalty kick phase off with a slow shot that was easily blocked by Sweden’s goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl. Solo would eventually block a shot, giving the USWNT the lead.

Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl dives for a penalty kick by USWNT in Olympic quarterfinals. Photo by Celso Junior/Getty Images.
Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl dives for a penalty kick by USWNT in Olympic quarterfinals. Photo by Celso Junior/Getty Images.

Sadly, forward Christen Press would shank the ball over the crossbar putting Sweden back on top. Once again, Solo would find the fate of the USWNT’s advancement resting on her shoulders. It was a do or die situation in which Solo had to stop the shot from Lisa Dahlvquist to move into another round of penalty kicks. Solo stepped away from the field, buying extra time to switch gloves.

But even Hope’s new gloves couldn’t keep Sweden at bay. The Swedish team rushed the field in celebration of victory as a stunned USWNT looked on. For the first time in Olympic soccer history, the USWNT will not advance to the semi-finals and Sweden will.

USWNT soccer fans might have recognized Sweden’s new head coach, Pia Sundhage, who was at the helm of the USWNT’s last Olympic gold medal victory. While it was current coach Jill Ellis who helped lead the USWNT to a World Cup title last year, that World Cup roster has changed significantly with many new, young players replacing seasoned veterans. Still ranked number one in the world, some have questioned whether or not the USWNT has the skill or strength it once did. The game against Colombia and now the USWNT’s elimination from any sort of medal in the Olympics might lend some weight to those fears.

Still, there are many factors that could have played a part in the USWNT’s elimination. Seasoned veteran forward Megan Rapinoe only recently returned to limited play as a result of an ACL tear in December, according to NBC. And as previously reported by the Inquisitr, Hope Solo’s mental game might have been off due to the relentless taunting by the Olympic spectators.

Despite the USWNT being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Olympics, fans remain hopeful that Ellis and the members of the team will get it all sorted out over the next three years as they focus on becoming World Cup champions again.

Perhaps the USWNT soccer players can chip in to fly Abby Wambach in for a motivational half time speech in the future.

[Image by Celso Junior/Getty Images.]

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