The top-ranked U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (USWNT) was beaten by #3 Sweden 5–4 on penalties after the teams were locked at 0–0 at the end of extra time on Sunday and knocked out of the Women's World Cup.
"We want to express our gratitude to the fans and supporters who have stood by our team. Your unwavering support means a lot to us, and we appreciate your dedication," USWNT wrote in a statement. "Our goal remains the same, to win. We are committed to surpassing the standard we helped to create and we will rise to meet the challenges."
It was the first exit before the semi-finals in nine World Cups for the Americans, who had arrived at the tournament looking for an unprecedented third consecutive title.
U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said the team had been practicing penalties for the last nine months.
"I know we were criticized for the way we played. ... I think we came out today and were all about the grit, the resilience," he said.
"Unfortunately, soccer can be cruel sometimes. For it to go to penalties and to end in that fashion, with the confusion at the end."
Winners of the last two World Cups in France and Canada, the U.S. slumped to their quickest exit, having made the semi-finals or better in all eight previous editions.
In a madcap shootout, Lina Hurtig struck the winning spot-kick in the seventh round, though U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher parried the shot—resulting in the ball spinning just past the goal-line needing confirmation by VAR.
Coming off of the bench in her final World Cup, 38-year-old Megan Rapinoe had an opportunity to take a commanding 4–2 lead in the shootout, but sent her shot high and wide.
Sophia Smith had had the chance to win the match for the four-time champion Americans but blasted the ball over the bar.
Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher kept American hopes alive converting a confident penalty to briefly retake the lead in the sixth round of penalties—before Kelley O'Hara's attempt struck the right post.
Sweden goalkeeper Zecira Musovic emerged as the hero, having kept the Scandinavians in the match, making 11 saves before the shootout to deny the Americans.
"We're so happy right now," Sweden captain Magda Eriksson said in a radio interview. "I don't know how we managed to stay in this game.
"We didn't play our best game, but in some way, we showed we're hard-headed, we showed heart, we never give up. We took it to extra time, we took it to penalties and we managed to win," she said.