Sweden stuns USWNT in PKs, ousts Americans from Olympics in quarterfinals
The U.S. women's national team's quest for a fourth straight Olympic gold medal is abruptly over in stunning fashion.
The USA fell 4-3 in penalty kicks to Sweden, coached by ex-U.S. manager Pia Sundhage, after a 1-1 draw in the Olympic quarterfinals in Brasilia and is eliminated at the earliest stage of a major tournament in program history.
After both goalkeepers made saves in the first four kicks, the USA's Christen Press put her effort over the bar and Lisa Dahlkvist stepped up and scored the clincher. It marks the first time the USA has failed to make the Olympic final.
The two sides drew 1-1 after regulation, with the U.S. having to come from behind on a goal by Alex Morgan. Both sides had goals disallowed in the second half of extra time, with Carli Lloyd being whistled either for offside or a foul to negate her header. Moments later, Lotta Schelin had a would-be winner whistled for offside, even though replays showed she was fully on.
Sweden threatened the USA's Olympic medal streak in regulation, taking the lead at the hour mark through Stina Blackstenius, who entered the match as a first-half substitute. Despite the U.S. dominating possession, Blackstenius broke through on a classic counterattack, splitting a pair of U.S. defenders, latching onto a long ball and beating U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo to the far post.
Morgan delivered the clutch equalizer in the 77th minute, taking advantage of a fortuitous bounce. Crystal Dunn's flick-on took a bounce off a Swedish defender's face, and it fell to Morgan in the center of the box. The U.S. star made no mistake, delivering a thundering finish to pull the U.S. level.
In penalties, Morgan led off for the U.S. but had her effort to the left denied by Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl. Lindsey Horan, Carli Lloyd and Morgan Brian followed with makes, but Press missed the target completely, opening the door for Sweden. After waiting for Solo to change her gloves, Dahlkvist calmly dispatched the winner, sparking an eruption from the Sweden sideline.
The U.S. had a few chances early on, but could not capitalize. Morgan had a chance cleared off the line, followed by Brian having an opportunity tipped over the bar, both within the first four minutes.
Half an hour in, Lloyd almost struck. Mallory Pugh split the defense with a pass to Morgan on the left channel. Morgan was patient after Lindahl slid off her line, and the U.S. forward picked out Lloyd a few yards out. Lindahl had recovered in time, though, and Lloyd's chance was saved.