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‘Never seen that’: World Cup photo leaves United States in meltdown

The United States are on the verge of crisis after surviving elimination by just millimetres in a wild end to their Women’s World Cup group stage match against Portugal.

The reigning champions dodged disaster in a dour 0-0 draw at Eden Park in New Zealand on Tuesday night.

The US, who have won the last two Women’s World Cup titles, survived by the width of a post and the draw was enough for them to finish second in Group E.

It was almost curtains for the powerhouse American team when Portugal substitute Ana Capeta had a golden opportunity to score in the 92nd minute, only to see her shot bounce off the post.

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The team’s lacklustre performances have been widely criticised by football pundits around the world, and one star’s act after the game has particularly angered America.

American football legend Carli Lloyd was scathing of the moment members of the United States team celebrated with fans after the match.

Meanwhile, other team members, including Megan Rapinoe, were also seen dancing after surviving through to a Round of 16 match against the top team from Group G, which will be decided on Wednesday.

Lloyd was staggered at the celebratory acts from the American players. The most eyebrow-raising one came when Trinity Rodman and Kelley O’Hara were seen taking photos and high-fiving fans after the team’s worst-ever performance in World Cup group stage with five points.

“I have never witnessed something like that. There’s a difference between being respectful of the fans and saying hello to your family,” Lloyd said on Fox Sports’ World Cup post-game show.

“But to be dancing, to be smiling. I mean, the player of the match was that post. You were lucky to not be going home right now.”

She said the team’s “uninspiring” effort was nothing to celebrate.

“It started to shift post-2020 and there are a lot of off-the-field things that are happening,” she said.

“You never want to take anything for granted. You put on that jersey and you want to give it everything you have for the people who came before you, the people who are going to come after you and I am just not seeing that passion.

“I am seeing a very lacklustre, uninspiring, taking it for granted. Winning and training and doing all that you can to be the best possible individual player is not happening.”

Lloyd, who led her team to World Cup titles in 2015 and 2019 and won Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012, said her former team is walking a “fine line” right now.

“We saw before the game, the dancing. There’s a difference between confidence and arrogance, and I think that’s a fine line of where is the direction going with that,” she said.

“It’s OK to be confident, but you never want to cross that line of becoming arrogant and this is exactly what can come and bite you.”

Former Matildas star Catherine Cannuli responded to the vision of Rodman and O’Hara’s antics on the post-game show on Optus Sport by saying: “Typical USA arrogance. Coming off that pitch, finishing second in the group and still think they’ve got it all”.

Head coach Vlatko Andonovski had a different view on his team’s competitive level in his post-game comments.

“This team wanted to win this game more than anything else and they’ve put everything they could in preparation for this tournament,” Andonovski said in response to Lloyd.

“To question the mentality of this team, to question the willingness to win, to compete … I think it’s insane. I’ve never seen this team step on the field and not try hard and not compete.”

Regardless, it’s the USA’s worst ever performance in a World Cup group stage and just the second time the side has not topped its group.

USA 2019 World Cup winner and forward Jessica McDonald said the champion side were a shadow of their regular selves.

“As far as performance, I did expect more from them, I’m sure a lot of us do, and they’ve been outperformed,” she said.

“I know they’re walking on eggshells right now. It has not been to their standard so far.”

McDonald said she “felt sick” when Capeta’s shot beat US goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher but slammed into the post and then bounced straight back out.

There’s good news for the Matildas however with the side now not able to come up against the defending world champs until the final, if they both make it that far.

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