Day 17: Zecira Musovic, the woman you are
The United States of America have been knocked out of the World Cup
Sweden 0 (5) - USA 0 (4)
For the first time in the history of the Women’s World Cup, the US were knocked out before reaching the semi-final stage. There will be no threepeat for the holders who are exiting the competition at an earlier stage than any incumbent has done previously. Instead Sweden progressed after winning on penalties thanks in no small part to a fantastic individual display from goalkeeper Zecira Musovic.
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Vlatko Andonovski was forced to make a change with Rose Lavelle’s suspension and he rejigged his midfield to bring in Emily Sonnett to play alongside Andi Sullivan. Lindsay Horan was pushed forward as the US switched to a 4-2-3-1 with the ball. Trinity Rodman also came back into the team for Lynn Williams.
The changes influenced what was undisputedly the US’ best performance at the World Cup but it was not enough to break through a Sweden side who found themselves sitting deeper and deeper. Only Musovic’s excellence - this was easily her best ever performance in goal - helped keep the US at bay. But despite a potentially Golden Glove winning display from Musovic, the quality of chances the US created were poor with a non-penalty xG per shot of 0.06.
In reality, of course the US could have gone through tonight. But that would not have fixed the issues they have had throughout this tournament. Their attack remains disjointed without a clear connection to the midfield. The space Lindsay Horan found showed some improvement but they were still overly reliant on Trinity Rodman in 1v1 situations, without exploiting similar threat on the other side of the pitch.
For Sweden, it is a fantastic result in a match they have played time and time again at the World Cup. But their inability to impose their own game plan within this match should be a concern as they move forwards to face Japan in the quarter-final. The fact that the US did find joy in wide areas will be particularly worrying given that Japan’s wing-backs have excelled. Regardless of what happens from now, though, it was a historic night for both Sweden and the US.
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