The disappointed coach of the US women's Under-20 football team was as frank as can be following her team's group stage elimination at the World Cup currently taking place in France as she said emphatically at a post-match press conference:
"America's days of domination are over."
Team USA, a superpower in the women's game and a team with a proud history in the Under-20 tournament having won the title on three previous occasions, suffered the ignominy of being booted out of the tournament before the knockout stages for the first time in history after a 2-2 draw with Spain in a must-win game.
In the crucial Group C encounter, team USA fell behind as early as the seventh minute after a defensive error enabled Patri to pounce on a loose ball to fire Spain into the lead. Three minutes before the break it was two-nil to the Spaniards as the Americans failed to deal cleanly with a free kick and Garcia punished them.
However, despite a late fight-back from the former Champions who rallied to tie the game at 2-2 following strikes from Sophia Smith and Savannah Demelo, it was not enough for the CONCACAF Giants as they failed to get the crucial win which would have enabled them to advance at the expense of the Japan. It was the first time since the inception of the competition in 2002 that the Americans failed to progress out of the group stage.
Speaking to reporters following the game, Coach Jitka Klimkova had this to say:
"Never in my wildest dream would I have thought that Team USA would be going home after the group stages. We always make it to at least the quarterfinals which, prior to today was our worst showing in this competition. Even after the opening loss to Japan I still believed that we could have advanced. But I think what happened to us was that we dug ourselves too big of a hole earlier on and waited a bit too late to come back into the match. You can't afford to fall behind 2-0 and then only wait until there are seven minutes remaining in the game to wake up and realize that you are in a World Cup."
"But it should be clear as daylight to anyone who is an avid follower of the game that America's days of domination are over. No longer are we the superpower in the sport as we used to be and other teams have caught up with us. The writing has been on the wall for a long time. Since the end of the last decade when we went out in the quarterfinals of the 2010 tournament to Nigeria and even though we won the title for the third time in 2012, going out in the quarterfinals two years ago to eventual Champions Korea DPR and then failing to get out of the group stage this year gives me the feeling that there may be more occasions like this for team USA in the future."
"Unfortunately, when you have been at the top for so long, the only way you can go after that is down."