One of my favorite players to watch: Kadeisha Buchanan — bit of breaking news on the USWNT roster
The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, Monday, Aug. 22, 2022
(Editor’s Note: Please enjoy this Classic Annie while she covers the men’s World Cup in Qatar this week!)
This past week we had a pair of international women’s tournaments in the United States, the Women’s Cup in Louisville and the Women’s International Champions Cup in Portland.
I don’t put all that much stock in these exhibitions, mostly because the teams are at different points in their seasons and coaches are sometimes integrating or managing players. But it is always interesting to see the different styles of play, as well as watch some of the stars we often don’t get to see in person, like Ada Hegerberg and Christiane Endler.
Among those special players is Kadeisha Buchanan, who signed with Chelsea in June after several years with Lyon. She also has over 100 caps with the Canadian national team, and was named the best young player at the 2015 World Cup — when she first grabbed my attention.
“I think the girls made me feel warm and at home. I think there are still some partnerships to work. But I think I’m off to a good start with integrating with the girls,” Buchanan said about her new team.
Fun Fact: The ICC consolation game between Chelsea and the Thorns on Sunday was the first time ever that Buchanan had played against Christine Sinclair, her teammate on the Canadian national team.
Buchanan is an immensely talented player, one of the best in the world in her position. And she’s only 26.
She has such a compelling story: She was one of seven girls raised by a single mom outside of Toronto. Her talent was apparent from the start, and she was called up to the senior national team when she was in high school. She and Ashley Lawrence, who met as kids playing youth soccer, went to West Virginia and later both signed pro contracts with French teams.
Buchanan, who won the MAC Hermann Trophy for the nation’s top college player in 2016, has developed from a physical defender to a more technical one while over in Europe. And in the process, she’s been on five Champions League winning teams.
“I never expected to win any of those titles. Growing up, a lot of focus was, growing up, going to college, playing in America and hopefully playing in the NWSL. But I think it’s great, the game has grown tremendously. So looking at a lot of the clubs around the world. So I never imagined winning the Champions League. But grateful I have five,” she said.
For Chelse coach Emma Hayes, there weren’t enough superlatives to describe Buchanan.
“She’s an incredible player. So she was exceptional. I think she’s — everybody knows she’s a world class player. But today I think she showed everybody why with the right work she will become the best in the world,” Hayes said.
In the consolation game Sunday, Buchanan was tasked with defending a determined Sophia Smith late in the second half — and was successful.
“She’s great, I had to play against her against Canada in the championship at qualifiers. She’s a really good player. She’s physical, she’s fast. And for me it’s good to go against top, top players and defenders,” Smith said.
Oh, and this is the closest I got to Sam Kerr, who wasn’t made available to the media. 🙁
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A little bit of breaking news from this morning: The roster for the USWNT’s upcoming matches against Nigeria was released. It’s basically unchanged from the team we saw at the W Championship. Ashley Hatch is back from injury, and Sam Coffey — who replaced Hatch in Monterrey, is back. Emily Sonnett was left off because she is recovering from an injury.
The big news is that Crystal Dunn will be back with the team for training. She’s not on the official roster, but Andonovski hinted ever so subtly that she might be ready for the big showdown at Wembley in October. Stay tuned.
The roster by position with club team affiliation:
Goalkeepers: Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars).
Defenders: Alana Cook (OL Reign), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns).
Midfielders: Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns); Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit).
Forwards: Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Midge Purce (NJ/NY Gotham), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns).
Here’s some of what Andonovski had to say this morning:
Question: Obviously you decided to stick with the same group that did well at the W Championship. But going beyond that, obviously you have a lot of Spirit players here and the Spirit’s struggled this season. How much do you weigh a team’s performance with individual performances for your team in selecting a roster?
Andonovski: We did decide to stick with the same roster, or players that were with us, because we were very happy with the level of play that those players displayed in our environment. And that’s why going forward obviously we’re gonna see a lot of these players coming back, if they continue to stay in the form that they’re in. In terms of the Spirit players, I don’t think they’re in the in the best form that they can compete. But also we’re very happy with how they perform and when they’re in our environment, and we’re monitoring their form and how they do in their environment. And obviously, there may be a point where we feel like somebody doesn’t deserve to be in our environment, or in our camp, but as of right now we trust them, they’re all good players, they’re all young players, a lot of potential and we believe will help us. Help us be successful going forward.
Question: Have you had conversations with Mia Fishel about what she would need to do to earn a look or is it where she just needs to continue progressing as she plays for Tigres.
Andonovski: No, I have not had a conversation with Mia. We do follow her form and her performances. But I also have to say that there there are a lot of players in NWSL that are performing as good or maybe better than Mia that we’re very happy to see because ultimately, that’s what raises the level of play for everybody, for the whole league, and helps the players that are in our camps, that are in our environment, perform or prepare even even better. Now, going back to Mia, like I said, we have not been in contact and she does need she does need to continue playing well and be consistent, show consistency, for more than two or three games, consistent 10-15 games, to prove that she belongs at the senior level or the best team in the world. But no player who’s playing at a high level with their club, whether that is in the NWSL or anywhere outside the NWSL is out of the picture for selection for camps or matches.
Question: Just in terms of Crystal Dunn coming back in as a training player, do you have a sense of a timeline? Is there a potential that if she returns to he NWSL that she could see time on the field before the end of the year?
Andonovski: Yes, we do believe Crystal will have time with her club team before the end of the year. We do believe that she’s going to be playing minutes for us in one of the upcoming games. Now what will those minutes look like? I cannot be more precise because we need to see what Crystal is right now when she comes into camp. But so far we know that she’s ahead of schedule, and she’s doing very well and it’s important for her to start integrating back into the environment because now she will have a little bit different challenges outside of outside of playing soccer and we’re all excited for it.
Question: In terms of what Crystal brings to this team, obviously we have seen the shift from veteran to youth, but Crystal has been around this environment a really long time, but hasn’t necessarily been in with this group, so was it important for you to get her into this training environment and start building those relationships now?
Andonovski: Yes, that’s why we wanted Crystal to be in, because we will see someone in Crystal was that will be a very, very important player for us going forward — if she can get back anywhere to anywhere close to her best, because of how good she is on the field, but also her career experience and leadership qualities off the field will be will be important for the young group, or younger group that we have.
Question: If I’m not mistaken. You’re coming up on three years in charge of the USWNT. In that time, how do you think the team has evolved, personnel-wise, tactically, culturally, and what kind of tweaks have you tried to make to the team along the way heading into these games and into the World Cup next year?
Andonovski: I think the biggest change that we’ve seen with this team has happened in the last year or post-Olympics. I think that COVID and lack of camps, and lack of days together or abilities to be together was what prolonged is this change that we’re looking at, or the change of generation that we were preparing when I first got into the job. I’m happy where we’re at. We are were able to still figure out the right mix. I think that we’re on the right track, we’re moving the right direction. And when I say the right mix, I mean the right mix of youth and experience, because we do need the young players but they’re not any young players, we’re talking quality young players, like Soph Smith, Mal Pugh, Catarina Macario, Naomi Girma now and Foxy. But we also need the experienced players need to be there, to show on the way. I think that the most important group is the middle group to me, the Lindsey Horans, the Rose Lavelles, that still have the drive, the desire, the willingness to do the dirty work, but also have the experience to have been in big tournaments, have won big tournaments. So we see that the change, we see that mix coming along together, but now with that, obviously, we need to work on the little little things that are evolving and getting better or evolving as the game evolves.
Question: Is this the same roster we’ll see at the October 7 friendly in London and also how much do you plan to coach the team with an eye toward that match? I know in college football teams often spend several hours a week preparing for the end of season rivalry game.
Andonovski: So is this going to be the team that we’re gonna see in the next next game? I can promise you that I don’t know, because every training every game is an opportunity to showcase themselves or as we call, a trial, but also every game that they play in the league is a tryout for this for these players because like I said earlier, we monitor their forms. Now we’re not coaching with with an eye towards the next game, we’re actually coaching with an eye towards the World Cup. Everything that we do now is in preparation for the World Cup. And that started after winning the game in CONCACAF.
Question: We know that you spent a lot of time at the the Euros and wondered what you learned from that about what you’ll see next summer? How did it make you more or less confident about having a great performance next summer?
Andonovski: I don’t think it made me more or less confident in any in any way. What we learned is that the Euros are extremely well organized and it was a really good event. I think that the Euros improved the standards of women’s soccer, and raised the standards for the game on the field and off the field. I think that I was able to see incredible games and I was able to actually familiarize myself a little bit better with some of the best teams in the world. I mean, we see that the teams outside of the States, or our rivals, are getting better and getting better on a daily basis and that was very obvious.
Question: Just wanted to ask a quick question about AD Franch who’s had some pretty good moments this season in the NWSL. Is there any conversation going on with her about she needs to work her way back into the pool?
Andonovski: She doesn’t have to do anything more to be back in the pool because she’s in the pool. AD Franch is one of the goalkeepers that we believe has the quality to be in our pool. Now. It’s little things, little details that make the difference that get you from the pool to get a call-up. I think she’s doing very good, but we also cannot neglect some of the things that some of the other goalkeepers are doing as well.
|By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer|
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