With the US football team out of the Women’s World Cup, who will now snatch the trophy?

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Published Aug 7, 2023 at 01:33 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

In an unexpected turn of events that has sent shockwaves through the world of women’s football, the illustrious United States Women’s National Football Team (USWNT) has suffered a stunning upset, shattering their formidable streak as champions. On Sunday 6 August 2023, the US team officially lost their hopes of winning back-to-back championships as Sweden knocked them out of the Women’s World Cup in Australia.

For years, the US team had been synonymous with dominance, setting new standards of excellence and raising the bar for women’s football globally. Their pursuit of a remarkable feat—to become the first team, irrespective of gender, to clinch the World Cup three times consecutively—had been the focal point of their journey. With every triumph, they had etched their names in the annals of football history. However, this time around, the script took an unexpected twist, leaving fans and analysts grappling with the astonishing outcome.

The USWNT’s journey to the top had been nothing short of extraordinary. With four World Cup victories out of eight since the inception of the tournament in 1991, they had consistently showcased their prowess on the global stage.

However, the 2023 Women’s World Cup unfolded with a different narrative, presenting the US team with challenges they hadn’t faced in years. The evolution of the women’s game across the globe, coupled with the emergence of formidable contenders, reshaped the competitive landscape. As the women’s game continued to gain traction and popularity, other nations elevated their own play.

The monumental upset that marked this tournament occurred in the showdown between USA and Sweden, two formidable teams that ignited the pitch with their passion and skill. As the reigning champions and favourites, the USA had all eyes on them, hoping to witness a continuation of their winning tradition. But Sweden, a team that had been quietly building momentum, emerged as the victors.

Having won all their games leading up to the match, Sweden had demonstrated their prowess and cohesion on the field. The attacking trio of Stina Blackstenius, Fridolina Rolfö, and Johanna Rytting Kaneryd had posed a significant threat, contributing to Sweden’s ultimate success. The match culminated in a penalty shootout that sent shockwaves through the stadium.

The penalty shootout highlighted the intricacies of the sport—moments that underscore how even the most minute details can tip the balance between victory and defeat.

Megan Rapinoe, who prior to this World Cup was the team’s most reliable penalty goal scorer, was berated online for laughing after she missed her own penalty. Later on, the footballer expressed how she smiled because it felt like a “sick joke.”

In the aftermath of this stunning game, the focus naturally shifts to the future of women’s football and which teams might take the US’s spot as top contenders. The abrupt exit of the reigning champions leaves a void to be filled, and speculation about who will step up to claim the coveted title. Currently, the top teams to beat are England and France.

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