USA Women reaction to Alyssa Naeher after VAR penalty decision sums up team

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USA Women reaction to Alyssa Naeher after VAR penalty decision sums up team
USA Women reaction to Alyssa Naeher after VAR penalty decision sums up team

The USWNT showed their class after exiting the Women’s World Cup at the hands of Sweden.

The US Women were held to a goalless draw with Sweden in the round of 16 clash on Sunday. The game ended in a goalless draw after 90 minutes and proceeded to extra time, with a penalty shootout needed to decide the winner.

Megan Rapinoe, Sophia Smith and Kelley O’Hara all missed their spot-kicks in the shootout. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher even stepped up to score from the spot during the shootout, but could not prevent her country losing 5-4 to exit the competition.

The USWNT had gone into the tournament as reigning champions after winning the Women’s World Cup in 2019 and 2015. And the scenes at the end of the shootout showed how disappointed each player and backroom staff member was to be knocked out of the tournament.

The final spot-kick, scored by Sweden forward Lina Hurtig, needed to go to VAR to be assessed to see if the ball had crossed the line. Footage showed how the ball had only just managed to cross the line and secure the win for Sweden.

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After the decision was confirmed, Naeher’s teammates went over to console her as the team’s exit from the competition was confirmed. Despite the decision going against the USWNT, the moment highlight the unity among the roster.

The group stages of the competition saw the USWNT only win one of their three group games. The 3-0 win over Vietnam was followed by draws with Portugal and the Netherlands, as the team finished runners-up.

Such performances led to the roster being criticised by several analysts, after the team scored just one goal across their final two group games. Journalist Megyn Kelly and former USWNT star Carli Lloyd were among the critics of the team prior to the loss against Sweden.

USA Women reaction to Alyssa Naeher after VAR penalty decision sums up teamAlyssa Naeher scored one of the USWNT four spot-kicks during the penalty shootout loss to Sweden (Alex Grimm - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski spoke after the game, and said that the manner of his team’s exit was “cruel”. He went on to acknowledge the criticism that the team has faced throughout the tournament.

"I am proud of the women on the field," Andonovski said, via ESPN. "I know we were criticized for the way we played, and for different moments in the group stage.

“I think we came out today and showed the grit, the resilience, the fight. The bravery showed we did everything we could to win the game. And unfortunately, soccer can be cruel sometimes."

Mark Wakefield

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