Winners of the last three gold medals and having never failed to reach the semifinals in a major tournament, Friday was a day the United States women's national team and fans have never seen.
The U.S. crashed out of the Olympics in the quarterfinals, falling to Sweden in penalty kicks. After playing to a 1-1 draw, Alex Morgan and Christen Press missed their kicks as the Europeans won 4-3. A dramatic save from Hope Solo in the penalty kicks gave the U.S. life, but Press' skying penalty kick meant Sweden just needed to convert its fifth to win, which Lisa Dahlkvist did.
"Sweden dropped off. They didn't want to open play. They didn't want to pass the ball. They didn't want to play great soccer," Solo said. It was a combative game, a physical game. Exactly what they wanted and exactly what their game plan was. They dropped into a 50. They didn't try and press. They didn't want to open the game. And they tried to counter with longballs. We had that style of play when Pia [Sundhage] was our coach. I don't think they're going to make it far in the tournament. I think it was very cowardly. But they won. They're moving on, and were' going home."
It was a poor tournament overall for the U.S., who never looked like that World Cup winner of a year ago. Unconvincing in attack, sloppy in the middle, the Americans' hopes of winning gold died on the field in Brasilia as Sweden secured the shocking upset.
The game was back and forth throughout with chances for each, though the United States was sharper for the most part. But it was the Europeans who would strike the first blow in a wild, back and forth match.
On the counter attack, Stina Blackstenius put Sweden ahead with a fine low finish to the left past Hope Solo on 61 minutes. Needing to come back to force extra time, it was Morgan who was attentive in the box to finish a loose ball 16 minutes later to draw level.
In extra time, the match opened up and provided an entertaining second 15 minutes, with each team grabbing a goal late, both of which were ruled out for non-existent offsides.
In the penalty kicks, the United States overcame Morgan's early miss to make it 3-3 entering the fifth kicks. There, Press sent her kick over the goal as Sweden's Lisa Dahlkvist bagged the winner to send the U.S. packing.
It's the first time Sweden has ever made the semifinals, and what a way to do it over the world's top team.
Relive the match with our live blog below.
So far: The United States beat New Zealand 2-0, France 1-0 and drew Colombia 2-2 to win Group G. Sweden finished third in Group E and beat South Africa 1-0, lost to Brazil 5-1 and drew China 0-0.
A cause for concern: Colombia is no soccer power, yet the U.S. only managed a 2-2 draw last time out. Cause for concern? There is no doubt it wasn't a great showing, but it was the best spot to have a bad game if there were ever going to be one. Two Hope Solo errors on free kicks gifted Colombia a draw, but there is no reason to believe Solo won't bounce back, and you have to remember that both Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan played just 45 minutes each. This team will be fine.
What to watch: The U.S. at the back. Forget the Solo errors, the concern here is the central defense of the U.S. and if Julie Johnston is fit to start. The back line looked rough against France without her. If she is good to go and in top form, the U.S. should have little trouble.
U.S. will win if: Lloyd and Morgan both play 90 minutes and create enough chances in attack to bag a couple goals.
Sweden will win if: The Americans have a heck of a time finding the back of the net and can go on the counter to pull the surprise.
Prediction: USA 3, Sweden 1
Schedule: Women's soccer at the Summer Olympics.