Sweden knocks out US in women's football quarterfinals
Americans' first Olympic loss since 2000
The US women’s soccer team isn’t used to losing at the Olympics – before Friday, it last suffered that ignominy to Norway in the gold medal match of the Sydney Games 16 years ago.
But defeat to Sweden on penalties in the quarterfinals of Rio 2016 seemed too difficult to bear for Hope Solo, the USWNT’s outspoken goalkeeper.
“(I think) we played a bunch of cowards,” Solo told reporters after the match.
“You saw us give everything that we had today. Unfortunately the better team didn’t win.”
Solo, who made clear she was unhappy with what she viewed as her opponents’ defensive style of play and their lack of desire to “play great soccer,” had already caused controversy before the Games.
She posted pictures of herself on social media wearing a mosquito net alongside the words “#zikaproof” back in July.
The 35-year-old was booed by sections of the crowd during the quarterfinal for this gesture, and her post-match comments were met with equal disdain by Sweden’s former US coach Pia Sundhage.
“It is OK to be a coward if you win,” said Sundhage, who coached the Americans to Olympic success in 2008 and 2012.
Solo took to Twitter later to say she was bad at losing alongside a full transcript of her post-match quotes.
On the pitch, Sweden took the lead in Brasilia through Stina Blackstenius just after the hour mark, but Alex Morgan made it 1-1 with 13 minutes of regulation time remaining.
The sides could not be split after 30 minutes of extra time, and penalty misses from Morgan and substitute Christen Press handed the initiative to the Swedes.
Lisa Dahlkvist then faced down the pressure to convert the winning spot kick for Sweden, which has never won an Olympic medal in women’s football before – though it did lose the bronze medal playoff match to Germany in 2004.
Dahlkvist did well to hold her nerve after Solo forced her to wait by insisting on changing her gloves before facing the penalty. Sundage described Solo’s actions as “an act of panic.”
The result means the USWNT has failed to reach the gold medal match for the first time since women’s soccer was introduced at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics.