The glorious career of two-time world champion Megan Rapinoe in the US team ended this Sunday in the bitter end. The veteran striker allowed a penalty in her boots to get the shootout back on track, but sent it off and her team was eliminated in the round of 16 against Sweden. The dream of a historical successive triple crown that would have enriched an already storied legacy has melted away.
Rapino, 38, formed a relentless pair of strikers with Alex Morgan that gave the United States the world championships in 2015 and 2019. story.
And he did it with the end of the movie. After thirteen penalties, goalkeeper Alyssa Najeher, who also converted a penalty, touched Lina Hürtig’s shot, but the ball missed the target by millimeters. A VAR check was needed, giving Sweden a spot in the quarter-finals.
Neither Rapinoe nor Morgan saw an exit at this World Cup, in which the United States sounded the alarm with a modest group stage in which they won only one game against Vietnam before drawing with the Netherlands and Portugal. She finished second, which has only happened once in her nine World Cup appearances, and faced one of her best-equipped opponents, Sweden.
However, increased demand has had a positive effect on American players. The United States, which has been criticized for allegedly underestimating its group stage rivals, played Sweden in their best match of this World Cup.
He created an endless streak of scoring chances but ran into a wall raised by Swedish goalkeeper Zekira Musović, the protagonist who made at least three saves in ninety minutes.
And that after these tie-breaking difficulties, the US had a tailwind in the penalty shootout. They were 3-2 after the first three penalties and Rapino was able to take her to put the round robin back on track. Everything has changed there.
The striker opened her right hand too wide and sent the ball wide of the target. His reaction was amazing. Nervous smile.
Sweden gave the USA a new chance to win by not launching a fourth penalty, but the players again forgave Sophia Smith, and then Kelly O’Hara shook the frame, giving the Swedish team their first “match point”.
Lina Hürtig crossed, goalkeeper Najeher felt and touched the ball, but was unable to stop it from crossing the line by less than an inch. The image of gate detection technology was harsh to Americans.
And so the legendary cycle ends for the United States, which has four world titles to its credit and has dominated for the past eight years.
Rapinoe is only a few months away from football, and US Soccer must begin preparations for a new cycle to restore its scepter in women’s football, in which the level and number of highly competitive opponents is growing every day.