What would a USWNT youth movement look like?

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, September 27, 2021

A lot has been made about how the USWNT will look moving forward, especially after a disappointing run in Tokyo, where the team looked out of sorts. There’s two more matches against South Korea with the Olympic squad (and a few invitees). The final match will be Carli Lloyd’s last with the national team.

Then there are two tentatively scheduled matches in Australia in November. Those matches are dependent on COVID-19 and travel restriction between the United States and Australia. There’s also a possible late season camp for young players.

There are questions about several veteran players on the team and their futures. After Lloyd, could this be the last hurrah for Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Kelley O’Hara? Rapinoe and Sauerbrunn have both suggested they are looking at options. And what about Alyssa Naeher?

“Hopefully we’ll be seeing new faces in camp because I think it’s always good to bring in some players who can push everyone here and push for spots. That’s what’s made this team so great and successful, and it’s what makes this environment so hard: there’s always someone knocking on the door, ready to take your spot,” Rose Lavelle said.

I wanted to take a look at some of the young players who may be on the horizon. But a lot of it depends on who sticks around. The national team midfield seems to be settled for quite some time, barring injury. There’s so much talent there and only so many spots.

Here is my list of players most likely to get a closer look as we head into this next cycle. Let me know if you think I’m way off here, or any names you’d like to see (and why!)

Catarina Macario, 21: She’s already the future, but I figured I’d add her here because she’s still so young. The two-time MAC Hermann winner is a rare talent, and she’s developing international-level skills with Lyon.

Trinity Rodman, 19: Who isn’t looking forward to see what Rodman can do on the senior national team, given the chance? She’s got four goals and three assists in 16 games, including 14 starts, with the Spirit this year. She also leads the team in tackles. She scored on her first touch in the NWSL.

Sophia Smith, 21: She was one of the non-Olympic players called up for the two matches against Paraguay, and she scored her first international goal. She’s also got six goals this season for the Thorns.

Mallory Pugh, 23: I wasn’t convinced that Pugh was going to live up to the hype that surrounded her a few years ago. And indeed, she struggled with injuries. But is appears that Pugh has found her groove again with Chicago.

Emily Fox, 23: Perhaps the heir apparent to O’Hara at fullback? She’s having a solid rookie season with Racing. So much so that Just Women’s Sports said she should be considered for NWSL ROY.

Midge Purce, 26: OK, so she’s the oldest player on this list. But I’m really hoping that Andonovski gives Purce a bigger look on the attack. She’s a solid player and a natural leader. Ashley Hatch, 26, is another one of those players that may be older, but are still in their prime and deserve a national team look. Rodman’s teammate, Hatch has seven goals this season.

Ashley Sanchez, 22: A veteran of the U.S. Soccer youth system, she was named Young Player of the Year in 2016. And oh man, the speed.

Other young players to look out for include Brianna Pinto, 21, Jaelin Howell, 21, and Naomi Girma, 21.


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Molly Hensley-Clancy continues her excellent reporting on the issues surrounding the Spirit for the Washington Post.

The Kansas City Star’s report on KC NWSL playing home games next season at Children’s Mercy Park.

Goal.com Amee Ruszkai with a nice story on Tobin Heath’s path from Man U to Arsenal for Goal.com. Amee also had a good story on Carli Lloyd.

Don’t miss this story and podcast from Sandra Herrera and CBS Sports on Yael Averbuch and taking over at Gotham.

Suzy Wrack wrote a nice story about Brighton’s Danielle Carter for The Guardian.

From AP’s Ron Blum: US Soccer asks court to uphold dismissal in equal pay case.

I forget if I included this last week but I wrote about Mallory Pugh for AP.

Interesting story here on Mexico fining teams for capping women’s wages.

Nancy Frostick spoke with Janine Beckie for The Athletic.

Caitlin Murray writes about the USWNT in transition for ESPN.

The Equalizer’s Jeff Kassouf wrote about the women’s USL Super League, set to start play in 2023.

Blair Newman wrote about Man U’s Ella Toone for The Equalizer.

Jonathan Tannenwald of the Philadelphia Inquirer looked into Tobin Heath’s Arsenal move.

UK urged to resettle the Afghan women’s soccer team.

UEFA doubles the prize money for the Women’s European Championship. Speaking of the Euros, the Northern Ireland team welcomes the opportunity.


TWEET OF THE WEEK

Five at The IX: Crystal Dunn

Crystal Dunn spoke after the Thorns’ loss to the Red Stars this weekend. We haven’t heard from Dunn for a while here at The IX, so I figured you might want to see what she said.

Question: Give us your thoughts on the match against Chicago.


Dunn: Yeah, I mean it was a tough game obviously. Chicago is a top opponent. We battled hard but obviously fell a bit short but it was a good game. These are games that obviously matter and obviously we would have loved to at least come away with a point, but we get back to Portland and we go back to the drawing board again.


Question: Chicago seems to disrupt in the first 10-15 minues, how were they maybe successful and putting the Thorns off their game?

Dunn: They started strong obviously, I think they clogged the midfield a little bit and it was hard to get on the ball for spells of that first 15 minutes. They did a good job. They were compact, they made it hard for us to get on the ball and for me to get on the ball and turn and face forward. But like I said, I think the game evened out towards the end. But they got a late goal and it was hard to come back from.

Question: Just thinking about that goal from Sinclair obviously there was such a quick response from Chicago with that equalizer, but just what were some of those conversations like at halftime of how the team wanted to make a comeback?

Dunn: Obviously it’s really tough giving up a goal right after we scored, they kind of took the momentum out of us, but I think at halftime we felt like we were in it. The game is tied and we have an opportunity to go into the second half and give them everything we got. And there were moments in the second half where we had momentum, we were possessing it, moving it around. And then obviously, they get a goal and they’re up 2-1 but ultimately it was just a hard fought game.


Question: I was wondering, how are you feeling, knowing that we are in the last part of the season, in terms of your position that you are occupying on the field, and also the chemistry with the rest of the players.


Dunn: I think we are making our last push, obviously, to hopefully finish top of the table. Every team is fighting to at least make a playoff spot so we obviously know these games matter. Every game is going to be a battle, every team needs points. I think I still trust and believe that our team is exactly where we need to be. We have five more games left, five or six, so we’re in an incredible position to be able to finish this year off strong. But like I said every team needs points so it’s not going to be easy, but I trust and believe in our squad and I think we can do some pretty incredible things this year.

Question: How much are you guys talking about the shield and wanting to be able to get that hardware or is that just not something you’re focused on right now.


Dunn: I wish I would say we had a big board saying we need to win the shield but no, honestly, every game we just take it as it is. This is a tough league to play in and we know every game is a battle. So we kind of can’t even look too far ahead, we obviously know where we stand right now, we know that every team is chasing us, essentially, or trying to make a playoff push. But it’s just one game at a time, things can change at the drop of a hat. So, we understand that it’s a still a marathon not a sprint and we just have to take it game by game. Every opponent is different, but every opponent is very good in this league, so we just take it game by game.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Sarah Kellam, @sarahkellam, LPGA.com
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08, PHF Broadcaster
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Jessica Taylor Price, @jesstaylorprice, Freelance Gymnastics Writer

Written by Annie Peterson