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2023 Women's World Cup

‘We just lost the World Cup by a millimeter’: USWNT players react to Round of 16 loss

Jenna Watson-USA TODAY Sports.

The U.S. women’s national team stood stunned as Sweden celebrated when Lina Hurtig’s penalty kick was ruled over the line by VAR and Sweden advanced to the quarterfinals in penalty kicks leaving the US with its earliest exit in a World Cup in team history.

After the match, players and head coach Vlatko Andonovski spoke to the media. The message stayed consistent between players and coach–pride in the way the team played tonight, and the fact that penalties suck.

“I think we came out today and showed what we’re all about today, showed the grit, the resilience, the fight, the bravery. Showed everything that we could to win the game,” Andonovski said. “Unfortunately, soccer can be cruel sometimes.”

“First and foremost, I’m so proud of the team you know a lot went into this performance…I think we played beautiful football today,” said co-captain Lindsey Horan after the match.

“We just lost the World Cup by a millimeter, that’s tough,” said goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher of the ending of the match. “Proud of the fight of the team tonight, we knew we hadn’t given our best in the in the group stage and we wanted a complete team performance. We played great tonight, had a number of great chances–hats off to the Swedish goalkeeper, obviously a number of fantastic saves on her and to keep it 0-0.”

Julie Ertz, who narrowly made it back on the squad in time for the World Cup said, “Obviously we’re proud of the way that we played, but we didn’t put anything in the back of the net. The penalties were tough as well. I think for me it’s just emotional because it’s probably my last game ever being able to have the honor to wear this crest…But it’s an honor to represent this team and I’m excited for the future of the girls.”

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“It feels like a bad dream,” described Alex Morgan. “The team put everything out there tonight. I feel like we dominated but it doesn’t matter.”

When asked what an early World Cup exit means for the U.S. program as a whole, Crystal Dunn spoke to the competitiveness of this year’s tournament: “I think it just says a lot about the growth of the game. I think so many people are looking for us to win games 5-0 in World Cups, and I’m like, you know, we should be proud that those days are not here…We’ve always fought for the growth of this game globally, and I think what you’re seeing is that.”

“Some of the young players coming through absolutely killing it,” came from Horan speaking of the impressive showing of the youth. “Look at how incredible Naomi [Girma] was this entire tournament. [Naomi] plays like she’s 30, first World Cup and she’s one of the best players on the team.”

“Man, the kids are taking over which is such a good thing,” Megan Rapinoe reflected on the young players throughout the World Cup showing out. “Obviously so many of them in our squad are so young, so talented. This was 14 players first World Cup, so they’ll all be back and better in just four short years.”

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