It marked the first time in 13 major competitions it failed to reach the final four and raises some questions about the future of players like Hope Solo and Carli Lloyd.
But the good news is that even if the USA will have to replace about half its team for France 2019, it has a solid core of young players.
For three takeaways from the USA's early exit.
1. Mostly dominating but rarely convincing.
The difference between winning and losing at the top of the women's game is slim. Last year's Women's World Cup might have ended differently if Hope Solo had not iced Celia Sasic on the German's penalty kick with the USA-Germany semifinal tied at 0-0. And what if Solo had iced Lisa Dahlqvist and the Swede missed in Friday's quarterfinal?
At the 2015 Women's World Cup and 2016 Olympics, the USA mostly dominated but was rarely convincing. A championship in one and quarterfinal exit in the other are about right even if Friday's shootout loss was a stunner, marking the first time in 13 major competitions it failed to reach the final four.
Women's World Cup:
Whoever wins Olympic gold, the USA will remain the gold standard in women's soccer, the team everyone looks up to. No other national team receives the support the U.S. women receive from their federation and no other country throws more money after women's soccer like the United States. And no other players are bigger stars in their country than the stars of the U.S. national team.
"You best believe that in 2019 and 2020," Lloyd said afterwards, "we're going to be back for the gold."
2. Uncertain futures for Solo and Lloyd.
Six of the starters on the 2012 U.S. gold-medal team were 30-plus years old and only two of them -- Carli Lloyd and Solo -- were significant factors in the field when the USA won the 2015 World Women's Cup in Canada.
Only three starters on Friday against Sweden were 30 years old or older -- Becky Sauerbrunn, Solo and Lloyd -- but five other starters will be 30 or older in 2019 when the next Women's World Cup is held in France so change will be in the offing.
Solo will be 38 and Lloyd 37 in 2019 so it's hard to believe they will both be around for France 2019 or Tokyo 2020.
Solo had the worst game of her career in a major competition in the 2-2 tie against Colombia. Her postgame tiff on Friday, was only the latest in a long line of incidents that have long since worn thin. There's no better goalkeeper in the world, though, as he showed in the second game against France, and that gives her a long leash. Whether Solo can stand up to the physical demands of goalkeeping for three more years remains to be seen.
Coming back from a knee injury, Lloyd scored in the wins over New Zealand and France and was unlucky to have a goal called off in overtime against Sweden but is not a dominating presence in midfield.
3. Plenty of youth to carry the mantle.
In recent years, lots of legitimate questions have been raised against the U.S. women's development program,. There were concerns that countries like France and Japan were passing the USA at the youth level. But Japan wasn't even in Brazil, and France exited disappointingly in the quarterfinals, like it did in Canada a year ago.
USA-Sweden: Player Ratings
The best news for the USA is that even if will have to replace about half its team for France 2019, it has a solid core of young players who have come through the youth pipeline in the last four years.
At 18, Mallory Pugh is the youngest U.S. women's player to start in an Olympic match -- and arguably the most multi-talented player to come into the national team. She has all the skills to be the playmaker the USA has always lacked.
Lindsey Horan is only 22, Morgan Brian 23 and Crystal Dunn and Julie Johnston still only 24. This was the deepest U.S. team in history with youngsters Emily Sonnett, Jaelene Hinkle and Sam Mewis all late Olympic cuts.
The next chance to see the USA in an international competition will come at the Under-17 Women's World Cup Sept. 30-Oct. 21 in Jordan. The player to watch: 17-year-old Ashley Sanchez (18 goals in 16 U-17 international matches), who has already been called into the senior national team.
USWNT fall campaign:
Sept. 15 -- Thailand in Columbus, Ohio
Sept. 18 -- Netherlands in Atlanta.
Oct. 19-27 -- FIFA fixture window.
Nov. 23-Dec. 1 -- FIFA fixture window.