USWNT wraps up the year with fresh faces — Sinc says goodbye to international play — NWSL schedule is out!
The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, Dec. 11, 2023
Hello from Las Vegas! I’m here for a couple of projects I’m working on. So excited about all of this and I’ll be sharing more in the next few weeks. Vegas is one weird place if you don’t drink, gamble or smoke. But it’s great for people watching. Should I get lip injections?
This past week was both the USWNT’s final game of the year, and Christine Sinclair’s last match for the Canadian national team. An eventful year is indeed winding down.
I discussed the influence soon-to-be coach Emma Hayes was exerting on the team even though she’s not joining up until May. That made the lineup changes all the more interesting. Under interim coach Twila Kilgore, six players have earned their first cap.
Kilgore made seven changes to her starting lineup between the two matches against China, and a bunch of newcomers got playing time, including Korbin Albert, Jenna Nighswonger, Sam Coffey and Olivia Moultrie.
Coffey and Jaedyn Shaw scored Tuesday in the 2-1 victory.
“It was just one of the best moments of my life,” Coffey said. “I’ve worked my whole life for moments like these and to share them with this team is just a dream come true. What matters most though is that we came away with the win.”
It was Shaw’s second goal for the national team in her first start. More of what she said afterward is below.
All of this makes the 2024 Olympic roster a quagmire. We’ve seen a snapshot of the new kids and what they can do. It sure looks like Mallory Pugh is going to be back soon, and Catarina Macario can’t be ruled out. Hayes will get a first-hand look at her when the she finally makes her debut against Chelsea, which could come after the first of the year. A reminder: There’s only 18 spots. And half the roster can’t be forwards. So lots to ponder in the coming six months.
Luckily I still get to write about Sinc for one more year. But I have to admit, watching from afar was emotional.
The NWSL expansion draft will be held Friday. We still don’t know who has been left unprotected by their current teams, who have to submit those names by Tuesday. The draft will be streamed live on CBS Sports Network.
The NWSL also announced its 2024 schedule this week. Some of the highlights:
- There will a break for the Paris Olympics next summer. The football competition at the games runs from July 25 to August 10. The NWSL break will be from July 15 to August 18.
- The Challenge Cup opens March 15 with Gotham playing the San Diego Wave. The game features the winner of the Shield and the winner of the NWSL title.
- Teams play four more regular-season matches than this past season, for 26 games total.
- Eight of the 14 teams will make the playoffs. Bay FC and the Utah Royals are joining the league next season. The championship is set for Nov. 23.
And one more item: The United States submitted a bid for the 2027 Women’s World Cup. We knew this was coming but it is now official. Happy the men in 2026 are the guinea pigs so all the details will be ironed out for the women! Here are the bid books on FIFA’s page. I’ll be taking a deeper dive into this at a later date. I think a lot of my fellow reporters are hoping for the Germany/Belgium/Netherlands bid, because travel will be a bit easier with trains rather than airports.
Deets about the draft next month, courtesy of the NWSL [This was announced a couple of weeks ago, but I post it here for folks who want to bookmark it because you’ll need it when you read this from Meg Linehan at The Athletic.]
Here’s a bit of what Shaw said on the broadcast following the game:
Question: What was that reception like when you walked off the field? They pulled you just a little bit after you scored that goal, but the recognition you got from the crowd?
Shaw: Obviously this is my hometown and I love being here, I have so many memories here in this stadium. And I just, I’m just so happy to be able to play here at this level and play on this team. I feel like it’s such an honor for me and it was a dream since I was a little kid and I’m just honestly really happy to be here. I can’t say that enough. (Laughs).
Question: When you went in at halftime, what was the conversation like what did the team say? I know you didn’t expect obviously to be down 1-0.
Shaw: I think going into halftime a lot of it was just the little basic details. Like often opposite movements, double movements, just like making the game more difficult to read for the other team, just tying up with the defenders more, and just making it more difficult for them to slide across.
Question: What are you telling yourself in those moments? The first half didn’t go so well. Obviously the second half, you guys want to come out and win the game. How do you still keep focused, still stay in the game?
Shaw: I think a lot of it is just us coming together as a team. We all make sure it’s known, like we tell each other Let’s go, come on this is a one. Just keeping each other engaged in and into the game and make sure everybody’s locked in so that we can take care of the details but also like perform and put the ball in the back of the net.
Question: The more and more that you’re out there, you’re making an impact every time you’re on the field. What is something that you want to work on as you take some time off and come back back in January knowing you guys have the women’s Gold Cup coming up. What are some things for you that you want to focus on?
Shaw: Ultimately, it is the offseason so I’m going to rest a little. I think just being being put out on the wing now again, and then coming in as like a double-10, so I think that’s a little bit newer for me. So just continue to watch film, go over that and make sure that I’m good with my timing and and the stuff I need to improve on.
|By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
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