Vlatko Andonovski has to go! Winners and losers as USWNT boss must take the blame for embarrassing World Cup exit after Sweden shootout agony


For the first time in Women's World Cup history, the United States women's national team will not be playing in the semi-finals. In fact, the reigning champion will not even be in the quarter-finals, a penalty shootout defeat to Sweden in the last 16 on Sunday officially making this the powerhouse's worst-ever tournament. It's the latest unwanted milestone that Vlatko Andonovski's side have claimed in what has been a truly awful few weeks in Australia and New Zealand.

After only qualifying from Group E by the skin of its teeth, racking up a worst-ever points tally in the process, the USWNT actually looked much better in this knockout meeting with Sweden, Emily Sonnett moving into midfield to shore things up while the backline again looked solid, conceding very few chances.

But it was at the other end of the pitch where things were lacking, as Lindsey Horan, Trinity Rodman and Alex Morgan were all denied in an inspired performance from Sweden goalkeeper Zecira Musovic. Her reactions were incredible throughout the game while the U.S. failed to make its dominance count, its threat going forward waning as the game went on.

Article continues below

Penalties it was, then, and though Musovic had been exceptional all evening, she wasn't required here. Sophia Smith, Megan Rapinoe and Kelley O'Hara, who had touched the ball just three times after coming on as a very late substitute in order to take a spot-kick, all missed the target from 12 yards, giving Lina Hurtig the chance to be the hero. It was a chance she just about took, her winning effort eventually confirmed as being over the line by not much more than a millimetre despite Alyssa Naeher getting a strong hand to it.

It's Sweden, then, that progress to the quarter-finals, set to take on Japan. Meanwhile, it's time for the USWNT to do some soul-searching after the worst Women's World Cup in history for the four-time winners.

GOAL breaks down the winners & losers from Melbourne Rectangular Stadium...