FIFA Women's World Cup
World Cup NOW: No three-peat for USA, but this team left an unforgettable mark on sport
FIFA Women's World Cup

World Cup NOW: No three-peat for USA, but this team left an unforgettable mark on sport

Updated Aug. 6, 2023 11:16 a.m. ET

The two-time defending champion United States Women's National Team is out of the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup following a 0-0 (5-4) penalty shootout defeat to Sweden on Sunday.

It marks the end of an era for one of the greatest dynasties in global soccer history — Megan Rapinoe has already announced that this World Cup will be her last, Julie Ertz implied that she might retire from the national team as well after the loss, and Alex Morgan's future is uncertain as well.

It also marks the end of an overall underwhelming World Cup performance for the star-studded squad, one that also leaves questions regarding Vlatko Andonovski's future as its head coach.

The "World Cup NOW" crew — Jimmy Conrad, Leslie Osborne, Melissa Ortiz and Karina LeBlanc — watched the entire gut-wrenching penalty shootout live on air and reacted to its heartbreaking result for the USA in real-time.


Conrad: "Sweden are the winners. This is only their second time beating the United States women on the World Cup stage. They need to be hugging their goalkeeper more than anybody else. Zecira Musovic made so many world-class saves throughout these 120 minutes. Heartbreaking for the U.S. women's national team, who had a couple of chances to win this [shootout] themselves. Alyssa Naeher was incredible. … It's a coin flip, it gets really hard when it goes to penalties. I thought the U.S. played as courageous and brave as they have all tournament long, and I think that was very inspiring. That's what we wanted to see, and they delivered."

LeBlanc: "You feel for every single player right now. This is not how they wanted to go out. They did play inspiring today. They were able to step up. They played more connected as a team. They played how the country wanted them to play. For them to go out on a call as close as this … I think we're all a bit shocked right now.

Conrad: "Alyssa did everything she possibly could. What a performance from her tonight in particular. I'll say this — it was always going to be difficult to win three consecutive World Cups. It's never been done before for a reason. It's hard to maintain that generation. In 2011, they got to the final and lost. 2015, they won it. 2019, they won it. And here they just felt a little bit short … We had our best game in the knockout rounds, there was a lot to be proud of, but it was always going to be difficult to win that third one. I think that needs to be taken into consideration and given that context as we had to work through a generational transition because some of our players who were so pivotal to winning those last two World Cups where the younger players need to ultimately push them out. That's how it works."

Osborne: "It was always going to be very difficult to win a three-peat, but the crazy thing about this team is, a lot of people thought it could happen and so did they because of what they've done and the history of this collective group, how much special talent they have and the ability that they have. … We knew this World Cup would be the most competitive World Cup, and it has shown that. It has shown that that gap has closed. And now, the teams who were on top, how do they stay on top and get better?"

Conrad: "This is the best Women's World Cup I have ever seen. It feels as competitive as ever. Where there were deficiencies in certain countries or in certain positions, now we're seeing world-class performances. … A rising tide lifts all boats, and we're starting to get there. I think a lot of that is because of the success of the U.S. and what they built and what they have shown. They laid the blueprint for success and win games and tournaments of consequence."

Osborne: "They've used their platform. They've helped other federations and countries get better. U.S. Soccer has been incredible, always putting in the resources and support that they have, but the game is growing. And the coolest part about this World Cup is to see how many debutants have made it to the knockout rounds, and how many powerhouses like Germany, like Brazil, like Canada that have gone home, and now the U.S. The game's changing. It's changed. This is proof that women's sports has changed and the U.S. is not No. 1 in the world anymore. That is a very difficult thing for me personally, being a former U.S. national team player, but I know this is what we all want. We all want this game to continue to grow and elevate."

Ortiz: "The U.S. deserved this game. They absolutely deserved this game. I think that's why this is more heartbreaking than anything. Obviously, you feel for the veterans as well that won't be on the pitch at another Women's World Cup, such as Megan Rapinoe, who knows about Julie Ertz, Alex Morgan, Kelley O'Hara. Who knows? There's just so many variables. All these players put out a battle today on every line from Alyssa Naeher to Naomi Girma to Andi Sullivan to Sophia Smith, Lynn Williams, Alex Morgan, everybody did their part tonight. Trinity Rodman was sick and in the 60 or 70 minutes she was in, she gave it her all. 

That's what makes it so heartbreaking, but as you have said, women's soccer is changing and the U.S. isn't No. 1 anymore. For me, I've always had the utmost respect playing against the USA and now covering the USA in every game. I've seen how strong of a team they are, the preparation that this team puts into everything, what the staff puts into this. And it's only going to continue to build.

For me, being a former Colombia player, I think on behalf of any international player who has played against the U.S., it's also exciting to see the growth of the game. To say hey, you know what, the U.S. aren't going to be No. 1. The U.S. aren't going to be the winners. This playing field has just opened up and it's going to provide so many more opportunities for girls and women around the world to compete around the world and get a chance to lift a trophy. But I have utmost respect for this team … I can only applaud this team. They absolutely deserved this match."


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