After the weekend's not at all surprising 4-1 loss against Germany Sweden's time at this year's Women's World Cup is over. No surprises there. Here is what we wrote already after the match against Australia:

After three games in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, one thing is obvious: This is not the same Sweden that came in second in 2003 and won bronze in 2011.
The 2015 version of the Swedish women’s national soccer team is one bereft of much of the character (and class) of previous teams, and the blame for the team’s problems rests squarely on the shoulders of head coach Pia Sundhage. After her stint coaching the United States and her experience in the almost professional women’s leagues in the U.S., many viewed Sundhage as a sort of women’s football miracle worker. Her job in the U.S. was actually easier as all her players were in the U.S., and she had a good handle on her talent pool from working first the Women’s Professional Soccer league and its successors.
It is a much different story in Sweden.
Where once one or two clubs dominated Swedish women’s soccer, there are now three to five, that year in and year out can lay claim to being a championship contender. There are also a good number of Swedes who now play overseas — in France, Germany and England. Sundhage seemed to cling to the diaspora as though they possessed a football talisman that would ensure Swedish success. It didn’t.
The warning signs were there even before the tournament. Sundhage began tinkering with a tactical system that worked extremely well, trying to make it more polished. All it did was alienate some of the younger players on the team. The blue and yellow managed to win just once in their four matches prior to the World Cup and their performance in their opener with Nigeria spoke volumes. Sweden looked old, slow and tired, especially the back line. Caroline Sege, for all her club accomplishments was again unable to control the midfield on the national team level, which left Lotta Schelin up front with very little help. Sweden was actually lucky to escape with a 3-3 draw against the African champions, who ended the game as the clearly better offensive team.
Against the United States, there was a sense that Sweden was more concerned with not losing than with actually winning. The back four had a much better performance, not because of any improvement but because U.S. star Abby Wambach is not nearly as mobile as she once was and Alex Morgan, the soccer-player-turned-sex-symbol who is not only talented but blazing fast, missed the game with an injury. Jessica Samuelsson kept Sweden in the match when she cleared a Carli Lloyd off the line but American defender Meghan Klingensberg went one better when she headed a Seger shot off the line to safety.
That left Australia as the match Sweden absolutely, positively had to win, and the blue and yellow quite simply succumbed to the pressure. Past teams that featured stalwarts Jane Törnqvist, Hanna Ljungberg, Malin Moström, Victoria Svensson and Kristen Bengtsson, always seemed to rise to the occasion. But Sundhage’s team simply lacked that type of character and team unity and, as a result, the 10th-ranked Aussies stormed into the lead against Sweden and held sway for much of the match. Lisa DaVanna, who played for AIK in the Damallsvenskan, fired the Matildas into the lead just five minutes into the game. Sofia Jakobsson equalized with a well-taken left-footed volley 10 minutes later, but there was no real desperation in the Swedes' play. As the match wore on, Sweden again seemed more intent on not losing.
The result left Sweden in third place in the group. The U.S. took first and Australia was the surprise second-place finisher. Sweden, which didn’t lose a match group, had an outside chance of advancing at the time of publication, but with just three points the chances were very slim.
Sundhage admitted as much following the Australia match. “I’m very disappointed that we only got one point. We started badly and although we bounced back it wasn't enough,” she said. “We didn’t lose (in the group), and we scored four goals but we didn’t do enough to win the group. I said before the matches we have four very good teams and that proved to be the case. We had the hardest group and didn’t lose but at the end of the day it wasn’t enough.”
No, Pia, it wasn’t.


Talking twits
It’s 2015 and just about everyone on the planet, even cave-dwellers, know there is this thing called Google that provides answers to just about any question. Clearly FoxSports announcers Jenn Hildreth and Kyndra de St. Aubin never heard of Google, or maybe they both suffered 10 broken fingers and had no assistants to help them. Or, maybe they’re just plain ignorant. Judging from their innane, useless and completely misinformed calling of the Sweden-Australia, we’re leaning toward the latter.
Obviously, neither commentator did her due diligence prior to the match as they went long stretches of discussing … nothing. St. Aubin played soccer for the University of Minnesota but seemed very confused with differences between direct and indirect free kicks, midfield play and any sort of history, either between the two teams or of past teams. Hildreth also has a soccer background but seemed totally flummoxed that there were actually teams that played soccer outside the United States.
Neither announcer seemed to think the fact that Lisa DaVanna, the Australian star striker, had played in Sweden’s pro league, the Damallsvenskan. Neither had a clue about the French league, where four Swedes toil, neither mentioned the fact that Kosavare Asllani, the rising start for Sweden, was a shadow of herself due to injury, and neither could name previous stars or either team such as Sasha Wainwright for Australia or Hanna Ljungberg for Sweden.
Just to make the commentary completely useless, both engaged in a long-winded “analysis” of how the U.S. team plays as compared to the two teams on the field. Google. It works. It brings up lots and lots of stories, such as those in Nordstjernan.
In their defense, FoxSports was determined to make its coverage of the Women’s World Cup a celebration of all things female, and that’s fine. It is about time female sports broadcasters had a platform to really show off their ability. The problem is Fox apparently went with the second team. There was very little real analysis and a seeming phobia against saying anything negative about anyone. Poor technique was rampant among several teams — including Sweden — and Hildreth, St. Aubin and co. said nothing as though pointing it out would somehow set the women’s game back. It won’t, but what could close doors to female broadcasting is insipid, poorly informed commentary that anyone who can use Google could avoid.
Chipp Reid