Thursday, August 11, 2022

USWNT Concacaf W squad: Everything to know about players fighting for World Cup qualification

The Concacaf W Championship will kick off on Monday July 4 in Monterrey, Mexico where eight teams will compete for the chance to claim a spot in the 2023 FIFA World Cup. The qualifying tournament will also serve as qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics and 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup.

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The U.S. women’s national team are ranked number on in the world and considered heavy favorites to win the tournament and advance to both the 2023 World Cup and 2024 Olympic Games. Head coach Vlatko Andonov ski recently named his 23 player roster ahead of the tournament, though various injuries and pregnancy have shaped how the team looks heading into Mexico.

Let’s meet your USWNT team for the Concacaf W Championship:

USWNT Roster

GOALKEEPERS (3)

Alyssa Naeher

Position: Goalkeeper

Team: Chicago Red Stars

Caps: 80

Naeher will likely be the starting goalkeeper for the the team during the tournament. She has the most experience among the current keeper pool, and has largely led the team in major tournaments since 2017. She’s returned from her knee injury post-Tokyo Olympics and has somehow looked sharper and quicker off her line during her 2022 season with the Chicago Red Stars. Her solid footwork combined with distribution make her a lock in the position for World Cup qualifying.

Casey Murphy

Position: Goalkeeper

Team: North Carolina Courage

Caps: 5


The six-foot Murphy earned her first national team caps under Andonovski during the teams trip to Australia in November 2021. She’s added three more since — including four clean sheets — and a recent start against Colombia in a friendly ahead of qualifiers. 

Aubrey Kingsbury

Position: Goalkeeper

Team: Washington Spirit

Caps: 1

A 2021 champion with the Washington Spirit, Kingsbury’s recent form has led her to the national team pool ahead of the tournament. A solid shot stopper with excellent communication makes her an asset for the goalkeeping trio.

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DEFENDERS (7):

Alana Cook

Position: Center back

Team: OL Reign

Caps: 11 caps

Goals: 0

Cook’s rapid rise to prominence is no accident, the Stanford alum has anchored the backline for OL Reign since last season, and has helped the team to five shutouts during their nine games this year. She has slotted into the national team backline after injuries to Abby Dahlkemper and Tierna Davidson, and has the ability to contribute in the attack with her distribution, adding two assists in her eleven appearances with the USWNT.

Emily Fox

Position: Left back

Team: Racing Louisville FC

Caps 14

Goals: 0

Fox has been a part of the USWNT player pool since her time with the Tar Heels at the University of North Carolina. Her breakout rookie year with Racing Louisville FC led to more time with the senior team under Andonvoski. With superstar Crystal Dunn out on maternity leave, Fox has currently been the answer to the left back questions posed by Dunn’s absence. 

Naomi Girma

Position: Center back

Team: San Diego Wave FC

Caps: 1

Goals: 0

Girma was last called into national team camp during her time with Stanford University. She returns to the team after a stellar start to her rookie season in the NWSL with San Diego Wave FC. Girma is intelligent positionally, is able to read plays as they develop, and a good addition for center back depth for the qualifiers.

Sofia Huerta

Position: Right back

Team: OL Reign

Caps: 13

Goals: 0

The only player on the team with experience in the Mexican women’s national team program, Huerta made a switch in national team affiliation in 2017. After a brief stint with the USWNT ahead of the 2019 World Cup, Huerta narrowly missed out on final roster for France in 2019. She’s now back with the team for qualifiers after finding a home with OL Reign at the fullback position. Huerta leads the NWSL in chances created (18) by an outside back and is second with most touches (715). She’ll be relied upon for production due to the likely limited minutes for veteran defender Kelley O’Hara. 

Kelley O’Hara

Position: Right back

Team: Washington Spirit

Caps: 153

Goals: 2

One of the most capped players on the roster next to captain Becky Sauerbrunn, she’s currently on a one year deal with the Spirit, and has missed some games navigating a lower leg injury. O’Hara’s ability to stay involved in the attack and drift more centrally at times has been an asset for the team, but heading into these qualifiers on limited minutes could mean her role looks different during the group stage.

Becky Sauerbrunn

Position: Center back

Team: Portland Thorns FC

Caps: 203

Goals: 0

The team captain and most capped player on the USWNT, Sauerbrunn brings calmness on the ball and strong organization of the defensive shape to the squad. While she’ll be relied upon for her steadfast performances on the pitch, the team will also look to her for confidence and leadership during the tournament.

Emily Sonnett

Position: Center back/Outside back

Team: Washington Spirit

Caps: 65

Goals: 0

Sonnett has typically played center back for her club, but has been utilized as an option at outside back for the national team. Part of the 2019 World Cup winning roster, she’s a player with less appearances than Sauerbrunn and O’Hara, but far more national team games than Fox, Girma, and Huerta. Could be utilized in different areas along the backline if needed.

MIDFIELDERS (6)

Lindsey Horan

Position: Center midfield

Team: Olympique Lyonnais

Caps: 110

Goals: 25

Horan is coming off a recent Champions League winning season with Olympique Lyonnais. An asset to the team on the ground and in the air, Horan is a player the team will be careful utilizing as she navigates a right leg injury. Her ability to play through challenges and win fouls will come in handy during qualifiers. 

Taylor Kornieck

Position: Center midfield

Team: San Diego Wave FC

Caps: 1

Goals: 1

Kornieck joins the squad after an impressive start with San Deigo Wave FC where she’s second on the team in total shots (25) and goals (2) scored. Drafted in 2020, the 6’1 midfielder earned her first cap and scored her first goal against Colombia, and could continue to be a target on set pieces for the team during qualifiers. 

Rose Lavelle

Position: Attacking midfield

Team: OL Reign

Caps: 72

Goals: 20

Lavelle will be the link to breaking lines and unlocking any low blocks the team will face during qualifiers. Expect her to be a frequent player in the middle for the team no matter who is in front of her. Lavelle is one of the most important players on this iteration of the USWNT, and will often be the focal point of the attack.

Kristie Mewis

Position: Center midfield/Defensive midfield

Team: (NJ/NY Gotham FC

Caps: 39

Goals: 5

Mewis’ role may shift a bit with the team in light of various lingering injuries to players in midfield. She recently featured in the defensive mid role for a brief stint against Colombia, helped turn the game around, and the coaching staff may continue to rotate the veteran through various positions during the group stage. 

Ashley Sanchez

Position: Center midfield

Team: Washington Spirit

Caps: 8

Goals: 2

There have been moments where the USWNT’s inability to unlock an opponent’s shape calls out for Sanchez’s skillset of tricky dribbles and highlight reel moves. Sanchez’s ability to take on defenders directly will provide another mode of attack for the team. Expect her to get called on in a pinch should the squad still find themselves scoreless and in need of a goal after an hour.

Andi Sullivan

Position: Defensive midfield

Team: Washington Spirit

Caps: 28

Goals: 3 

Sullivan is a smart, traditional defensive mid that has been involved with the player pool in the lead up to this type of tournament. Unfortunately, she’s another player on the team with some lingering injury concerns remain heading into qualifiers. Sullivan has the ability to spearhead an attack from deep within the pitch, and that will come in handy against Concacaf teams. 

FORWARDS (7)

Ashley Hatch

Position: Center forward

Team: Washington Spirit

Caps: 9

Goals: 4

A typical target forward who is dangerous with both feet and her head, Hatch’s accuracy will benefit the team whether she starts or features off the bench. If she can establish her game quickly she’ll be another solid option to get on the end of central service.

Alex Morgan

Position: Center Forward

Team: San Diego Wave FC

Caps: 191

Goals: 115:

Morgan made her return to the national team after an eight month absence as Andonovski expanded the player pool. Her ability to draw defenders and take punishment from other teams are just added assets to her goal scoring ability. The veteran USWNT is currently having a career year in the NWSL with 11 goals in just 10 matches.

Mallory Pugh

Position: Winger

Team: Chicago Red Stars

Caps: 73

Goals: 23

Pugh’s profile has risen with the national team over the last year, and she has increasingly been providing goals and assists for both club and country. Her vision and ability to drag defenders around while on the ball will be crucial for the team during the tournament. 

Midge Purce

Position: Winger

Team: NJ/NY Gotham FC

Caps: 14

Goals: 3

Purce’s ability to play on either wing and get to the end line will be an asset to the team during qualifiers. She can score goals, but can also serve them up, and will be a good option to provide a different look on the pitch during the tournament if the side needs width. 

Megan Rapinoe

Position: Winger

Team: OL Reign

Caps: 188

Goals: 62

Rapinoe really needs no introduction. Another veteran making her return after an eight month absence, Rapinoe recorded an assist in her first game back against Colombia. Andonovski has expressed that her role will be different than prior tournaments, as the 36-year-old attacker will be on limited minutes, and is no longer the star she was in her youth. But Rapinoe is showing she can still provide a late, game-changing moment.

Trinity Rodman

Position: Winger

Team: Washington Spirit

Caps: 3

Goals: 1

At 20, Rodman is the youngest player on the team heading into qualifiers and her inclusion on the roster comes after just three caps with the team. Andonovski’s initial intent with Rodman was to integrate her slowly into the team, but circumstances, and her continued outstanding performances with the Spirit have changed that, so don’t be surprised if Rodman sees time during qualifiers.

Sophia Smith

Position: Winger

Team: Portland Thorns FC

Caps: 16

Goals: 6 

Smith has been a force, starting opposite Pugh in the attack for Andonovski, and the Portland Thorn forward scored two goals in a final prep match against Colombia. She has the ability to score goals and combine in the box to produce for others, and will be key figure on offense for a long time to come for the USMNT.

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