Alex Morgan had her spot kick saved and Christen Press missed the net entirely, as the U.S. Women's National Team suffered a shock penalty shootout loss to Sweden in the Olympic quarterfinals. The teams ended extra time tied at one after Sweden scored on a counter and the Yanks leveled behind Morgan's goal. The USWNT won't medal and make their earliest ever exit from the games.
The U.S. came out firing on offense and could have easily had the lead just two minutes in. Morgan, the Orlando Pride's captain, had a header cleared off the line before midfielder Morgan Brian fired the rebound over the crossbar. The U.S. continued to take the game to the Swedes and in the 27th minute Morgan found herself in on goal, but could only fire straight at Swedish keeper Hedvig Lindahl.
A minute later, Morgan latched onto another through ball and rounded Lindahl, but was forced to play a cross in from a tight angle. The ensuing cross was deflected by a Swedish defender and nearly went in for an own-goal.
With Julie Johnston back in the lineup after missing the last two games, the back line looked strong. And while not tested much throughout the contest, the back four and keeper Hope Solo extinguished any chances when the counter-attacking Swedes went forward. That was until the 61st minute, when the Swedish took the lead. An inch-perfect through ball split the U.S. defense and found the foot of Stina Blackstenius, who fired a low shot into the bottom left corner under the arm of Solo to give Pia Sundhage's team a 1-0 lead.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis immediately made a change and brought on winger Crystal Dunn. The Washington Spirit star's speed was on display immediately as Dunn used her pace to get to the end line and put in some dangerous crosses, but couldn't help grab the equalizer.
But in the 77th minute, the Yanks got the goal they needed. A cross by Tobin Heath ricocheted off a Swedish defender and fell perfectly for Morgan in the middle of the box, who buried the chance with her left foot for her second goal of the tournament.
The equalizer opened the floodgates for the U.S., which began wave after wave of attack on the Swedish goal, but the teams ended regulation tied at one, largely due to the Americans' inability to put their chances on target. At one point in the second half, the U.S. had only six of 23 shots on frame.
In extra time, substitute Press played Morgan through, but her shot was saved yet again by Lindahl. In the 115th minute, the Americans thought they had the lead when a header from Lloyd found the back of the net, but Lloyd was deemed to have committed a foul and the goal was waived off. Just moments later, Lotta Schelin scored for Sweden, but the forward was wrongly called offside and the match would head to a shootout to decide the semifinalist.
In the shootout, Morgan led off all takers by sending a shot left but too close to Lindahl, who guessed correctly and saved comfortably. A few shooters later, Solo stopped a chance to even things up, but Press -- the fifth U.S. shooter -- finished a nightmare tournament for her by firing well over the bar. Despite some gamesmanship by Solo, who spent time changing gloves to try to freeze the fifth Swedish shooter, the underdogs completed the shootout with a 4-3 advantage in penalties and advanced to the semis.
The U.S. had been going for an unprecedented fourth straight gold medal. The USWNT is now 0-2-2 against Sweden since former U.S. head coach Sundhage took over that country's national team. Sweden, who will take on either Brazil or Australia in the semis.
Alex Morgan and Ashlyn Harris will head home earlier than expected to rejoin their Orlando Pride teammates.