Teenage takeover: The evolution of the USWNT

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie N. Peterson, Feb. 26, 2024.

Hello! I am currently in Southern California at the Women’s Gold Cup, working on some pre-Olympics stories. Four teams here are headed to Paris: the United States, Canada, Brazil and Colombia.

Continue reading with a subscription to The IX

Get unlimited access to our exclusive coverage of a varitety of women’s sports, including our premium newsletter by subscribing today!

Join today

There are lots of possible headlines for the latest incarnation of the USWNT. Smells Like Teen Spirit? Kids in America? New Kids on the Block?

But the first two games for the USWNT at the CONCACAF Gold Cup may best be described as: The Kids Are All Right.

It’s a bit cliché at this point to believe that every new incarnation of the USWNT is a youth movement. Younger players are constantly cycled into the team. That’s just what happens. It’s what is supposed to happen every cycle after a World Cup.

Last year at this time we were talking about the fresh new faces like Sophia Smith and Trinity Rodman. But the two players who made a difference in the first two group-stage games at the Gold Cup were actual teenagers: Olivia Moultrie and Jaedyn Shaw.

The IX and The Equalizer are teaming up

The IX is partnering with The Equalizer to bring more women’s sports stories to your inbox. Subscribers to The IX receive 50% off their subscription to The Equalizer for 24/7 coverage of women’s soccer.

Another teen, Alyssa Thompson, would have played in the Gold Cup, but she has a minor back injury. Korbin Albert is just outside the teenage window at 20.

Moultrie scored twice in the opener, a 5-0 victory over the Dominican Republic on Tuesday. Shaw had a brace in the 4-0 victory over Argentina on Friday night.

“Obviously we’re going through a bit of a transition period, but I think it’s cool when they’re coming in and they’re fitting right in. There’s not any drop in the level. They’re coming in and and they are bringing what they are great at and helping elevate the team.” —Rose Lavelle

U.S. Soccer provided me with some handy stats about teens on the team:

It was the first time in USWNT history that two different teenagers have had multiple goals in back-to-back games.

Shaw became the 15th player in USWNT history to score three or more goals in her first six international appearances — and the youngest to do so, at 19 years, 95 days.

Shaw is the fifth-youngest player to score for the USWNT in a competitive match. Tiffany Roberts, Mallory Swanson, Olivia Moultrie and Mia Hamm were the first four.

Jaedyn Shaw smiles in a blue USWNT shirt
Jaedyn Shaw is part of the latest USWNT youth movement. (Photo credit: Annie Peterson | The IX)

It was just the second time in USWNT history and first time since 1991 that teenagers have scored in three consecutive games. Shaw scored in the Dec. 5 victory over China, Moultrie had the brace against the Dominican Republic and Shaw scored again against Argentina.

“Jae is so fun to play with for both club and country. She’s a special player. She can read the game so well. She can get herself into pockets. She’s so crafty.” —Alex Morgan

Also got a chance to watch Colombia play Brazil at Snapdragon on Saturday night. What a fun game. It was just tense, tense, tense. Brazil came out on top 1-0.

So here are the standings: The United States (6 points) and Mexico (4) sit atop Group A heading into Monday’s showdown between the two teams. Mexico is looking much improved since the CONCACAF W Championship. Monday’s game should be good because goal differential matters. The United States has nine total goals, and Mexico has eight.

Want women’s hockey content? Subscribe to The Ice Garden!

Here at The IX, we’re collaborating with The Ice Garden to bring you Hockey Friday. And if you want the women’s hockey goodness 24/7? Well, you should subscribe to The Ice Garden now!

Brazil leads group B with six points. Colombia and Puerto Rico have three apiece heading into Tuesday afternoon’s match. I expect Colombia to advance.

Canada leads group C with six points and a whopping 10 goals. Costa Rica and Paraguay each have three points. Canada and Costa Rica will play Wednesday in Houston.

Snapdragon is a nice stadium, by the way.

Aerial view of Snapdragon Stadium
Snapdragon. (Photo credit: Annie Peterson)

Other soccer news

Spain clinched an Olympic spot

North Korea held Japan to a draw in Olympic qualifying. The two sides will meet for the second leg on Wednesday.

The Women’s World Cup generated $865 million in economic impact for Australia.

Group sues to keep the future NWSL Boston team from taking over Franklin Park stadium

Kevin Baxter from the Los Angeles Times wrote a nice story on Olivia Moultrie. Baxter also wrote about Naomi Girma.

Sandra Herrera for CBS considers three ways the USWNT will use the Gold Cup to shake off the World Cup, prep for the Olympics

Marisa Ingemi of the San Francisco Chronicle writes about how Bay FC pulled off its splashy roster.

Jenna Tonelli with a nice feature on Rose Lavelle for The Equalizer

The Daily Breeze with a story on Alex Morgan embracing the weirdness of the Gold Cup

A record was set for transfer fees in women’s soccer. That’s a good thing.

New Zealand also secured a spot in the Olympics

The Next, a 24/7/365 women’s basketball newsroom

The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited and photographed by our young, diverse staff, dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives and projections about the game we love.

Subscribe to make sure this vital work, creating a pipeline of young, diverse media professionals to write, edit and photograph the great game, continues and grows. Subscriptions include some exclusive content, but the reason for subscriptions is a simple one: making sure our writers and editors creating 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage get paid to do it.

Five at The IX: Twila Kilgore

Here’s the interim USWNT head coach after the match against Argentina! Sorry for the weird angle. They’re on a tall stage!

Pre-order “Rare Gems” and save 30%

Howard Megdal, founder and editor of The Next and The IX, will release his next book on May 7, 2024. This deeply reported story follows four connected generations of women’s basketball pioneers, from Elvera “Peps” Neuman to Cheryl Reeve and from Lindsay Whalen to Sylvia Fowles and Paige Bueckers.

If you enjoy his coverage of women’s basketball every Wednesday, you will love “Rare Gems: How Four Generations of Women Paved the Way for the WNBA.” Click the link below and enter MEGDAL30 at checkout.

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: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Annie Peterson