The United States women’s national team qualified for the round of 16 at the 2023 Women’s World Cup early Tuesday morning. However, the Americans finished second in Group E after drawing against Portugal 0-0. Despite being the top-ranked team in the tournament, the USWNT has only narrowly advanced to the knockout round.

The Americans have found it difficult to find a rhythm so far in the competition. They have looked a bit out of sync and have managed to score just one goal in their last two combined matches. Qualification of the round of 16 almost didn’t happen either. Portugal’s Ana Capeta hit the post in the latter stages of Tuesday’s match. The bit of luck for the Americans saved their World Cup. They would have been knocked out of the tournament if the ball went into the net.

Carli Lloyd rips USWNT celebration after draw

After the match, much of the discussion turned to the celebrations of the USWNT players. While some were more subdued, a few team members were seen dancing and laughing on the pitch. This included star duo Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan. The FOX Sports commentating crew was collectively shocked by the scenes.

Former USWNT great Carli Lloyd claimed that seeing the players smiling and laughing in celebration was “just not good enough.” She went on to criticize the celebrating players and claimed that they were lucky to move on to the next round.

“I have never witnessed something like that,” stated Lloyd. “There’s a difference between being respectful of the fans and saying hello to your family. But to be dancing, to be smiling? I mean, the player of the match was that post. You’re lucky to not be going home right now.”

American coach defends his squad’s actions

USWNT manager Vlatko Andonovski defended his players in his postgame interview. The coach insisted that it is “insane” to question the mentality of the team.

“One thing that I want to say is that this team wanted to win this game more than anything else, and they did everything they could in preparation for this tournament and in every game,” stated Andonovski. “To question the mentality of this team, to question the willingness, the willingness to win, I think it’s insane.”

The Americans will next have the tough task of facing the winners of Group G in the round of 16. This will almost certainly be Sweden. FIFA currently ranks the Swedes No. 3. Consequently, Sweden is one of the favorites alongside the USWNT to lift the trophy at the end of the tournament. Most expected a matchup of this much quality in the semifinal stage. Now, the Americans face the formidable for much earlier than they hoped.