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Sweden tops USWNT on penalty kicks to reach Olympic semifinal

Photo by Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

The U.S. Women’s National Team’s pursuit of a fourth-straight gold medal ended Friday in the cruelest of ways.

After 120 grueling minutes, Sweden defeated the USWNT, 4-3, on penalty kicks in Friday’s Olympic quarterfinal. Regular time ended in a 1-1 draw on goals from Stina Blackstenius and Alex Morgan, but the USWNT could not reach the gold medal game for the first time since the tournament’s inception.

Morgan’s initial penalty kick was saved before Sweden fired home their first two spot kicks. Lindsey Horan and Carli Lloyd kept the USWNT in the fight before Hope Solo parried away Sweden’s third shot from the spot to bring the U.S. level. The two teams exchanged finishes until the fifth spot kick, which Christen Press sent over the bar.  Lisa Dahlkvist buried Sweden’s fifth and final penalty kick, sending Pia Sundhage’s side through to the semifinal round.

The USWNT collapsed on a Sweden counterattack after nearly 60 minutes of domination to concede the game’s first goal. As pressure continued to mount, Sweden took their chance on the break as substitute Blackstenius broke loose. With Julie Johnston on her shoulder, the Sweden forward fired a shot past Solo for just her second career international goal.

After minutes of poking and prodding following Sweden’s opener, the USWNT finally found their break, and it was a fortunate one. Following a Sweden injury, a ball over the top deflected off of a defender and straight into the path of Morgan. As she cruised past a rattled Sweden defense, Morgan fired past Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl to level the scoreline in the 78th minute.

In second half stoppage time, both sides scored goals just moments apart, but both saw the referee call the finishes back for offside. Lloyd started the drama with a 115th minute header into the back of the net, while Lotta Schelin’s finish on the other end less than a minute later was incorrectly ruled offside.

The USWNT were dominant throughout the first half, at least in possession. Despite having a majority of the ball and chances, the U.S. failed to generate a goal despite several solid opportunities to do so. In particular, Mallory Pugh and Alex Morgan combined wonderfully through the first 45, with the former showing the maturity to break down a stout Sweden defense. In total, the U.S. fired six shots, but forced just one save from two first half saves from Lindahl.

The second half was more of the same, until Sweden broke through with the game’s opener. As extra time continued, Sweden began to push more as tired legs took control of both sides. Still, no side could overcome the opposing defense, or the assistant referees, as two goals were wrongly ruled out.

In total, the USWNT outshot Sweden, 26-3, but could not emerge from penalty kicks.

Following the win, Sweden will take on the winner of Brazil’s match with Australia in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday.


  1. Just a final note here under the heading “Misery Likes Company”. France will be hosting the WC in 2019. Because of their lack of success in 2015, the Head of their Federation indicated, that how well they do against the top teams in the World in 2016 will dictate who will be playing for France in 2019. So in 2016, France played the U.S. twice, England, Germany, and Canada. The totals goals scored by France with their high-powered offense in those 5 matches was -0-. And we thought that the USWNT was under-performing!!!!!

  2. I’d say Ellis got it wrong today, and I like her as a coach

    Ellis went with Allie Long who was poor and by the time Ellis subbed her off she was already complicit in the Swedish goal. Long does not get open at all and looks like a midfielder who is afraid to touch the ball, certainly true under pressure, and the US paid dearly for it while she was on the field today, but she played that way the entire tournament; this team missed Holiday BIG TIME (not Ellis’ fault, I know)
    Ellis did not start Dunn…that mistake is self evident; Dunn for Long changed the game
    Ellis chose Morgan to take the first PK even tho Morgan has stated clearly she does not like to take them, and her PK was not well taken…predicatable
    Ellis subbed in Rapinoe but then had to use another sub to sub Rapinoe off because she is not in game shape, and Rapinoe sent not one but two corners behind the goal and out of bounds along with other rusty play she contributed

    there’s more but I’m too bummed to keep going here. As much as Ellis was vital in the World Cup victory, she was integral to today’s defeat

    • Agreed on Ellis’s Line-up errors. You need to score quickly against Sweden if you want to beat them. The U. S. should have learned that from their 3 most recent matches with them, 0-1-2, as well as how Brazil played them in their Group match. So all the top scorers for the U. S. should have been in there from the start. Once they got the lead then they could have gone with a more defensive line-up. With respect to Rapino, they have done so poorly on set pieces this year, that they probably went with her out of desperation, despite the fact she wasn’t in shape. So the result, while disappointing, is not surprising.

      As for Long, I said so many negatives about her in my posts, that I won’t repeat them all here, but I think that the male coaches on the team need to forget about “Allie Long and her Pink Thong”, and just concentrate on how poorly she plays out on the field. Unless there are injuries on the team that we were not aware of, there would be no reasons I can think of that would justify putting Allie out on the pitch. Samantha Mewis should have been chosen in her place. Now Coach Ellis will have 3 years to think about that roster mistake.

  3. The USA did not play well. You cant expect to play play college style crappy ball and win on the national level ant more. For tooo long, athleticism was hiding the lack of tactical ideas and low technical skill level. The lack of understanding of how to play was excruciating to watch. turning into defenders in midfield, Constant lond balls into gaps. Useless shots from long range, inability to play give and go in tight spaces finally caught up. So predictable, so boring ,so lacking any ideas, sooo sad.

    • I have essentially the same perspective on things for our USWNT. But to sum it up in a few words, they don’t appear to have the ability to score from outside the penalty area, and they are not big or physical enough to get enough goals inside, so what happens is that they have the skills to get the ball down field and create enough opportunities, but lack the where-with-all to finish the job. Thus, they typically show a lot of shots, but a VERY low success rate. With Abby in there and at the top of her game, you had a definite inside scoring presence. What we need is another Abby inside. I think that Samantha Mewis could be that person if they don’t use her at midfield. But in any case, we need some new blood out there. Then, we need to schedule a couple of “Friendlies” with Sweden and see how they work out.

    • the US outshot Sweden 27-6, created lots of chances BUT failed to finish and Sweden came up with some huge pays in their own area and in front of their own goal. Much bigger issue was Long in the midfield who was in way over her head and was afraid to get open and demand the ball; the trickle down effect was huge and once Dunn came on for her the game changed. Ellis screwed up on that one unfortunately. As for scoring outside the penalty box, which women’s teams do that consistently? I’m not aware of any but perhaps you know more about it than I do.

  4. Lloyd thought they had been playing well? The USWNT really needed this wake up call I think. When all you have to do 90% of the time is show up in order to win its easy to get lazy and still convince yourself you’re great I guess. Getting some new faces in there who are hungry to earn a spot would be a good thing.

  5. one less thing the USWNT can throw in the face of the USMNT.
    It is very sad that a WNT v. MNT is a thing. I blame the WNT and their envy.

  6. As noted by some posts, the U S has become far too predictable in how they play. Their last 2 losses including this one (It is technically a tie) have come with shot advantages of 22-2 and 22-3 respectively. The fact that this is their 4th consecutive match with Sweden without a win, should indicate that they are not learning from their experiences. Brazil was as small as the U. S. and they were able to deal with Sweden’s size. In any case, the U. S., needs to add some size without sacrificing quality. My first move would be to add Samantha Mewis in place of Allie Long. Mewis
    lead UCLA to the NCAA Championship, and has the size and skills to become a dominant mid-fielder in the near future. They should use this post-olympic tour to play some of the other of the 50 + players on their National Team Roster. Based on some of the stats from the U. S. Club Teams, their appears to be some more talent out there ready to play. So lets start to take a look at them. This is especially true for any of them who have free kick abilities.

    BTW, how in the H – – – was Christen Press sent up to take a Penalty Kick. Everything I have seen from her lately has gone way over the top. Why would anyone expect anything different from the
    spot. If she was the only one left, that would be one thing. However, there were a number of veteran performers on the field who are typically calm, cool, and collected, and IMHO, would have been the obvious ones to send up there with an Olympic Medal on the line. At the WC, it took the US a long time to figure out how to put their machine into high gear. A year later, they simply ran out of time.

    Carli Lloyd’s statement after the match, that they had been playing well lately, may have applied to the New Zealand Match. However, that was about as far as I would have taken it.

    Some changes are definitely in order for the USWNT if they want to work their way back to a #1 ranking!!!

  7. Hopefully this will quell some of the unnecessary hubris coming from the women’s side (and their fans) towards the men.

    They don’t exist in the same competitive bubble at all…stop trying to make it so.

    • I think they would have gained a lot more support if they just said here’s what we bring in, here’s the growth, we deserve a raise. However making it all about how the men don’t win anything, just turned many people off.

      • They’d get more support if woman’s soccer wasn’t so damn boring to watch. Seriously, if not for the pride they bring by wining nobody would watch the third rate football they play compared to the men’s

      • Rob, I freaking love watching womens’ soccer. But then again, if you substituted the word “womens” for words like “MLS” or any mens’ league not considered in the big five or six–you’d also find people who agree agree with you about being so grossly inferior.

        So it’s all a matter of taste… We can agree to disagree… I dig it.

  8. Definetly out coached. You cant win by pumping long balls into the middle or sending cross after cross. How primitive, how predictable how boring and sad to watch.. A step back in terms of tactics. In fact , the USA had no answers at all. Sweden possession was twice as good.They deserved it.

  9. I don’t get the US defense against the counter. You are the best team in the world, you need to defend the counter in more than one game.

    They didn’t. They are out. Ouch.

  10. Dominate the game and get dozens of chances to score, but score ONLY one! This what happens when you don’t finish. Credit Sweden for their defensive resolve.

  11. The Solo glove switch made the Swedish girl want to score even more. She looked more relax after that stunt then if she would have just shot it when she reached the spot.

      • Have no problem rooting for her. And this seems to be a widespread point of view.

        Everyone deserves a second chance almost everyone is deserving of forgiveness, but she’s actually a piece of s–t as a person. That sentiment is also widespread.

      • Oh, look: Old School taking yet another personal shot at Hope Solo.

        It’s what he does.

        Oh, look. Another make-USWNT fan that forgives wrongdoings based on the attraction level of the female athlete. Was that accurate or do you have some other predisposed reasoning for thinking she’s not an absolute piece of s–t as a person?

        If you choose to ignore reality by way of police reports then you can help yourself to reading up on what her own family thinks about her. Don’t take my word for it, though. Perhaps you should just take hers, as “Jack” relayed:

        “I also think we played a bunch of cowards. But, you know, the best team did not win today; I strongly, firmly believe that. I think you saw America’s heart. You saw us give everything that we had today. Unfortunately the better team didn’t win.” – Hope Solo

        Absolute piece of s–t as a person.

      • “Oh, look. Another make-USWNT fan that forgives wrongdoings based on the attraction level of the female athlete.”


        You immediately prove that I’m right about you just jumping to conclusions and launching personal attacks on others without possibly knowing the reality about them. Well done!

        Dient bother to read the rest as there was no longer any point. But I’m sure you’ll jump right in at the very next opportunity to lace into Solo with personal slams from behind your safe screen, so maybe see you then.

      • Agreed that Hope is very hard to root for. But, at her age, this is likely her swan song in terms of major international tournaments. If she’s smart enough to realize this (and I have my doubts), by this time next week she’ll announce her retirement and work her way into the porn industry, where her eccentricities will be appreciated.

      • Dient bother to read the rest as there was no longer any point.

        …and you once again prove my point. You’ll only read what’s convenient for your own narrative and deny actual facts that have nothing to do with opinion. She’s a piece of s–t by any standard. She just happens to play soccer.

        You’re absolutely right I’ll “lace into her” the next time she does something again, because she will, and I’m absolutely sure you’ll be there to apologize on her behalf or apply different standards. Unless SBI is having a meet n’ greet, the location of where I’m posting has zero to do with my post. I suppose your own projection implies that’s the standard for you.

        “LLOL” said the gleeful fanboy.

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