The U.S. women’s soccer team suffered a shocking loss on Friday when Sweden eliminated them from the Rio Olympics. The American women, who had won four gold medals and never missed the semifinals in team history, went down 4-3 in penalty kicks.
The game was a back and forth affair throughout, with close calls by both teams that could have ended it without the need for a shootout in the first place.
After missing the first penalty kick, the U.S. women were behind the eight ball, but Hope Solo was able to play the role of the equalizer to tie it back up with her save with just a kick remaining for both sides. The U.S. couldn’t come through, missing their try. And Solo was unable to save the final shot for Sweden (despite trying a little icing the kicker action on her part).
The loss is surprising, and Twitter responded with appropriate aplomb. But let’s factor in why this is so shocking in the first place. If the women hadn’t gotten as good as they have been in recent years, losing prior to the medal round would be disappointing, but nothing to freak out about. Chances are the team will be back, and soon, and in four years, that loss will still sting – but be nothing more than a distant memory on the road to another gold.