Alyssa Naeher Aug 6, 2023; Melbourne, AUS; United States goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher (1) reacts after losing to Sweden in the penalty kick shootout during a Round of 16 match in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jenna Watson-USA TODAY Sports

The United States Women’s National Team saw its dream of winning a third straight World Cup come to a fitting close early Sunday morning. While the U.S. entered the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup as the favorites, their tournament run came to a premature end in a penalty shootout loss to Sweden.

Sweden inched by the U.S. 5-4 in penalty kicks to advance to the next round of the knockout stage. And in doing so, they added an assist from VAR.

On what would be the final penalty kick of Sunday’s match, United States goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher came away with what she thought was a monumental save to keep her team’s World Cup dreams alive. But, it was too good to be true. Naeher thought she batted the ball away from the goal line after Sweden’s Lina Hurtig saw her penalty shot hit the crossbar. Instead, the ball barely crossed the line, despite Naeher’s efforts, effectively sending the United States home.

VAR and photo evidence proved just how close it was, as you can see below:

“We just lost the World Cup by a millimeter,” Naeher told Fox Sports’ Jenny Taft. “That’s tough.”

In a separate interview, Naeher told Fox Sports that she thought she had the save, but it unfortunately “just slipped in.”

“It’s heartbreaking,” she continued. “We’ve put a lot into this as a group, as a team. It’s not just this tournament, it’s not just these past few weeks, you know? For us, it’s been three to four years of a build to get here. There’s a lot of sacrifices, there’s a lot of commitments. And you know, this is what you dream of. These are the moments you play for.

“And I’m so proud of the way the group came back after not our best performance in group stage to come out and have a performance like this for 120 minutes and be the team that we know that we could be.

“But it’s heartbreaking.”

You have to feel for Naeher, who did everything she could to try to preserve a win for the United States. It just wasn’t enough.

[Fox Sports, Fox Soccer on Twitter]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.