The United States women’s national team has been eliminated from the 2023 women’s World Cup in the round of 16, marking the first time in the history of the competition the Americans have been bounced before the semifinal round. USA lost the penalty shootout in truly disappointing fashion to Sweden in the round of 16, missing three shots without forcing a save and then watching a rebound from Sweden go in after Alyssa Naeher made the first stop.
The United States did not do well in the group stage of this competition, finishing second in the group for just the second time ever. It was the first instance the Americans didn’t win more than one group game, and the inefficiency in the final third was striking. While the team played its best game against Sweden, it ultimately still wasn’t enough. And now the focus is on head coach Vlatko Andonovski.
Andonovski has won a lot of games as the head coach, but he hasn’t done well in international competitions. The USWNT saw its record unbeaten streak end at the hands of Sweden in the Tokyo Olympics, a tournament which ended with a bronze medal after a loss to Canada in the semifinal. This round of 16 exit at the World Cup, which was supposed to be a quest for a three-peat, is another disappointing result under Andonovski.
Andonovski’s contract is up after this year, and the team has not progressed as expected under him. This USA roster was a mix of veterans and young players, but the expectation was still to make the semifinal round and really contend for the title. The Americans didn’t come close to that. The key young players Sophia Smith, Trinity Rodman and Andi Sullivan underperformed. Emily Fox and Naomi Girma were great but ultimately there wasn’t enough in the final third for the United States to make things happen. Lindsey Horan and Alex Morgan were fine but didn’t play up to their capabilities on a consistent basis. Julie Ertz was excellent, and she was probably the lone veteran who was consistent throughout the tournament. Megan Rapinoe was a substitute and then missed a crucial penalty in a moment where the Americans needed her.
Individual moments are hard to pin on Andonovski, and his tactics against Sweden did work even if the final result didn’t go USA’s way. However, his adamance to stick with the lineup and formation during most of the group stage is tough to understand. And when you consider the results against the backdrop of the team’s history, Andonovski is in real jeopardy.