AFTER MEXICO: Where does the USWNT go from here?
The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, July 25, 2022
That’s a wrap on the CONCACAF W Championship. I’m back in Portland and mostly recovered. The food was amazing, the people were awesome, but the weather was HOT. The USWNT got the job done, securing a place in the World Cup next summer as expected, while also clinching the spot in the 2024 Olympics, which wasn’t necessarily a sure thing.
Now the team has a little less than a year to prepare for Australia/New Zealand (The one year mark was last Tuesday). So what does that look like?
First off all, they’ll have only about 13 matches between now and then to get ready, starting with a pair of friendlies at home against Nigeria in September.
Secondly, if the Euros have shown us anything, the USWNT needs work when it comes to the competition they’ll face. It was apparent at the W Championship, where the team looked disorganized at the start.
Even coach Vlatko Andonovski knows:
“I have to say, if you ask me if we’re ready to go in a World Cup and compete in the World Cup tomorrow, we’re probably not ready for it. But are we going to be ready in a year? Absolutely.”
So what does the team need? The players were united: COHESION!
“I think the next couple of months are building those relationships. Obviously, this is a new group with a lot of young faces who are just now learning to play together and to play on this stage, so I think (it’s) learning to manage that, to work together and to just continue to grow and get better every single day that we have together.” — Sophia Smith
“I think it was so great for this kind of new young group to be able to experience this tournament. This was definitely the hardest qualifying tournament I’ve been a part of, which is a credit to all the teams — everyone’s getting better and it’s getting harder to win. So I think it was a good taste for everyone to have this kind of like high pressure, high stakes moment and a good experience for going to the World Cup.” — Rose Lavelle
But that cohesion might be tough. As I’ve noted before, the team that goes to the World Cup could look markedly different. Sam Mewis, Tierna Davidson, Crystal Dunn, Cat Macario, Christen Press, Tobin Heath and Julie Ertz weren’t on the W Championship squad, but could figure into future rosters. As of now, there are still 23 roster spots for the World Cup (rosters were expanded to 26 for the men in Qatar because of the timing in the winter. It’s unknown if rosters will also expand for Australia/New Zealand).
In the end of the tournament in Mexico, the theme was really progress, not perfection.
“Obviously very happy with the gradual improvements that we had, even though the results may seem like not as convincing if 3-0 is not convincing, or even 1-0 against Mexico, which I thought it was a brilliant result, a result that we needed, a grinding result. Even though it didn’t seem as convincing, I thought that there were moments of the game or certain situations of the game that we showed improvements from game one, and I’ll go game one against Colombia until the end. So those are those are the moments that we’re happy about, those are the moments that we’re looking at as coaches and gives us validation to what what we do.” — Vlatko Andonovski
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Five at The IX: Interviews following the W Championship!
Just like last week, here are the “exit” interviews after the W Championship. And again like last week, forgive my video skills.
|By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer|
|By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer|
|By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next|
|By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX|
|By: Eleni Demestihas, @strongforecheck, The Ice Garden|
|By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer|