The 2023 Women’s World Cup is around the corner, but before then, there must be qualifiers. The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) will be competing in three games this July with their opponents being Haiti, Jamaica and Mexico. The USWNT currently has four World Cup titles, which came in 1991, 1999, 2015 and 2019. The United States is the team to beat, as they by far have the most wins. Germany is currently the closest in terms of World Cup wins, as they have two.
Vlatko Andonovski, who has been head coach since 2019, recently named a 23-player roster for the 2022 Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Championship.
Andonovski has chosen goalkeepers Aubrey Kingsbury, Casey Murphy and Alyssa Naeher, defenders Alana Cook, Emily Fox, Naomi Girma, Sofia Huerta, Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn and Emily Sonnett, midfielders Lindsey Horan, Taylor Kornieck, Rose Lavelle, Kristie Mewis, Ashley Sanchez and Andi Sullivan and forwards Ashley Hatch, Alex Morgan, Mallory Pugh, Midge Purce, Megan Rapinoe, Trinity Rodman and Sophia Smith for the July meetings.
One player, in particular, stands out on this roster as this is her first USWNT call-up. Midfielder Taylor Kornieck of the San Diego Wave FC will be eager to show Andonovski why she deserves to keep her roster spot come next year when the Women’s World Cup rolls around. On San Diego Wave, Kornieck has scored two goals and tallied one assist in nine total games.
On the opposite end, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Kelley O’Hara are four very familiar faces on this roster. Sauerbrunn is the most experienced player in this group as the defender sits with 202 caps. Veteran leadership will be important for this tournament as eight players are 25 or younger and 12 players have 15 caps or less. Forward Trinity Rodman is the youngest player at age 20. Despite this, Rodman has already made a statement as she has had one goal in three appearances for the national team.
Morgan, O’Hara, and Sauerbrunn all make sense for this roster. O’Hara and Sauerbrunn have been active among this United States team, while Morgan has scored nine goals in nine matches for the San Diego Wave so far this year. Rapinoe seems to have been called up for a different reason considering her last game at the national level was in October of 2021. There is also the argument that Rapinoe’s last meaningful game was actually in the Summer Olympics since she was left off of the 2022 She Believes Cup roster. In addition to this, the forward has been playing limited minutes with her club team, the OL Reign, due to calf and back injuries. I do not expect Rapinoe to get heavy minutes this summer. Instead, I assume she will bring veteran leadership to the team, especially within the forward and midfield lines. Rapinoe’s role may not be on the field, unless a game plan goes astray due to a younger lineup not meshing, but her contribution is still crucial because it is principal for the newer faces to understand the ins and outs of their first World Cup qualifying tournament.
This new group of players has sparked controversy among USWNT fans, as did many of Andonovski’s previous rosters. Fans on social media have been flooding the team’s comments asking for Christen Press, Tobin Heath and Sydney Leroux, which is understandable when taking into consideration the influence these players have had at the senior level in the past.
Heath being left off the roster is actually not surprising since the forward has been battling a hamstring injury. It is possible that Andonvski could be allowing her the chance to rehabilitate and return to the senior level when she is at her best again. Press recently tore her ACL in a game with her club team, Angel City, but Andonovski claimed that her absence on the roster actually occurred prior to the injury. This was a surprising revelation considering the fact that Press has tallied 64 goals and 43 assists on the national team. Her statistics make her the second-highest active goal scorer at the national level, only coming in behind Alex Morgan, who has 115. Forward Sydney Leroux offers a different case. Leroux was on the USWNT from 2011 to 2017, and for the past couple of years she has been having productive seasons with her club team, the Orlando Pride. Leroux has 35 goals in 77 caps for the United States, which is actually a higher scoring rate than Megan Rapinoe, who made the roster, and Press, who is one of the best scorers in the women’s game.
Andonovski has had a track record of bringing in new faces while leaving big names out and the 2022 CONCACAF Championship roster is no different. This group of players actually seems to be more inexperienced than Andonovski’s previous important tournament rosters. However, just because some of the older USWNT stars did not get a call-up does not necessarily mean that they will be left off of the Women’s World Cup roster. Press could very well be back in time, Heath may get another shot, and if Leroux continues to perform well with the Orlando Pride, she could slide into one of the forward slots on the 23-player roster.