Monday, April 22, 2024

Three ways the USWNT will utilize the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup to rebound from World Cup, prepare for Olympics

An inaugural tournament should mean any team has a shot at winning. For 12 national teams in the upcoming 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup, there are still favorites to consider to win the first-ever edition of the women’s competition in the region. The U.S. women’s national team are heavy front-runners to lift the trophy. They’ve won the most titles in Concacaf, and have their eyes set on another, but with guests from CONMEBOL nations, the road to the cup won’t be easy. Fans can watch all the Gold Cup action across CBS Sports platforms including Paramount+.

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Here are three ways the USWNT will utilize the upcoming Concacaf event:

Another chance for hardware 

The program is in a transformative moment with incoming manager Emma Hayes set to join the team after her club season with Chelsea FC. Interim head coach Twila Kilgore has been running the team since August 2023 and has named a 23-player roster for the upcoming tournament. The team is unbeaten with five wins and one draw under Kilgore’s reign and the Gold Cup is an opportunity to win a trophy for her efforts. 

“Well, I think it’s great. The men have [a Gold Cup], so I think it’s wonderful that we now have it, and we get to compete in such a special tournament with some really incredible teams that are in it,” said USWNT team captain Lindsey Horan.

During a pre-game press conference, Horan also quipped that the team’s goal during the tournament is “the trophy,” and of course an opportunity to build toward the Olympics.

“Obviously, I think our main goal is to win the Gold Cup. It’s the first one for us, and I think that is very special. I think this is also such a cool opportunity to have a major tournament like this, that kind of exemplifies the Olympics, and gets us prepared for that. What we do here can really train us and mentally prepare us for what we might have to deal with in, in [the Olympics]. But, first and foremost, this is a major tournament itself, and we want to win.”

Tinkering ahead of Olympics

As the squad suffered a historic exit during the round of 16 from the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, it has been full steam ahead during a new era of USWNT soccer. While Hayes won’t be on the sidelines till June, there have been extensive collaborative efforts between Kilgore and Hayes to manage the team ahead of the Olympics.

The Gold Cup will be the first senior tournament Kilgore will coach as interim. With less than six months ahead of the Olympics, this will be an opportunity to evaluate players before narrowing things down to an 18-person roster.

“I think this Gold Cup, one, it’s a tournament itself that we want to win, and it is also direct correlation to the Olympics and how it’s kind of set up and it’s a major tournament. So it’s cool that we get this preparation leading into the Olympics,” Horan said. “Also, it’s a really cool opportunity because the NWSL is coming off preseason, and I think you’re gonna see a lot of interchange in the players and amount of playing time.” 

Preparation for less capped players

The majority of the USWNT Gold Cup roster features players who were part of September, October, and December friendlies. With a limited build-up to the Olympics, players who are newer to the senior national team pool will have the next few months to leave an impression on Kilgore and Hayes. 

Jaedyn Shaw, Mia Fishel, Olivia Moultrie and Korbin Albert are just a handful of players who have been called into camps post-2023 World Cup. 

“I think everyone needs to be utilized in this camp and I think that is a great opportunity for some of these players that maybe haven’t played a massive tournament with us yet or need more time on the field,” said Horan. 

“It’s preparation. Every single day. Training is preparation. Then the minutes that you get on the field, you got to take advantage of that, and we learn every single day. And it’s not just the new, young, ones — it’s all of us. We’re all progressing together, and we remain a team. Everyone needs to get on the same page leading into the Olympics.”

Viewing information

  • Date: Tuesday, February 20 | Time: 10:15 p.m. ET
  • Location: Dignity Health Sports Park — Carson, California
  • Stream: Paramount+

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