Sat. Jul 2nd, 2022

When U.S. Soccer sends out press releases to announce upcoming match rosters, there are all the time just a few stats and details included. But I believe this bullet from the announcement of the 23-player roster for CONCACAF’S World Cup qualification match sums up the state of the U.S. girls’s nationwide staff completely:

Honestly, when was the final time now we have learn that properly over half of a USWNT roster has not had any qualifying expertise? Other than our very first World Cup qualifier ever in Haiti earlier than the 1991 Women’s World Cup, my finest guess is rarely.

In truth, these 13 qualifying debutants all have 27 caps or fewer, together with eight in single digits: Alana Cook (9 caps), Ashley Hatch (8), Ashley Sanchez (7), Casey Murphy (4), Trinity Rodman (3), Naomi Girma (1), Aubrey Kingsbury (1) and Taylor Kornieck (0).

What does that let you know in regards to the roster head coach Vlatko Andonovski has chosen on this second? It tells me the youth transformation is official, and Andonovski did not want the USWNT’s upcoming friendlies in opposition to Colombia on Saturday and Tuesday to know the route he’ll take the staff. So a lot in order that Christen Press, even earlier than her latest torn ACL, was nonetheless not even within the ultimate 23-player roster. And given the high-level play by the youthful group within the NWSL this yr, if I have been Andonovski I’d be assured in them as properly.

– Watch stay: USWNT vs. Colombia (June 28, 10 p.m. ET)
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Sure, it was a significant setback and disappointment when Catarina Macario just lately tore her ACL given the season she had for Lyon, serving to them win each the Champions League title and French league title together with her team-leading 23 targets throughout competitions. But Sophia Smith and Mal Pugh are each equally scorching with their respective NWSL groups, and with Alex Morgan scoring seemingly at will for the San Diego Wave, main the league with 11 targets, that entrance three of Smith, Morgan, and Pugh can be a handful for each single CONCACAF opponent.

The midfield sitting behind them — if wholesome (the last word qualifier in a yr like this) — must be Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle and Andi Sullivan, though I do know extra than simply San Diego Wave followers are excited to see what Taylor Kornieck can do at this stage, given her dominance for the Wave.

It is the again line the place I believe probably the most query marks fall. With Tierna Davidson’s ACL harm and Abby Dahlkemper’s continued bouts of harm, Alana Cook and Naomi Girma could also be given the nod once more because the chosen center-back pairing, as they have been within the earlier USWNT video games in April.

But with Becky Sauerbrunn returning to the fold wholesome, will Andonovski select to convey the veteran captain into the beginning 11? I believe he in all probability goes with the identical beginning back-four he used within the final pleasant the USWNT performed vs. Uzbekistan — it was Sofia Huerta on the best, Cook and Girma because the center-backs, and Emily Fox on the left.

That uncommon positional battle the place a veteran could maintain onto a spot challenged by a rookie is the place the pair of friendlies in opposition to Colombia earlier than the qualifiers can sway Andonovski’s strategy. His focus is clearly on the qualification match in the beginning of July, and his roster choice makes it clear his thoughts is made up in pushing the staff youthful — however nonetheless, the Colombia friendlies are his final pit cease on the street to qualifiers in Mexico, and we should see him check his on-field partnerships.

The one head-scratcher for a lot of followers with the roster announcement was the truth that Megan Rapinoe made the ultimate roster. And I say “head-scratcher” as a result of Rapinoe had not performed a lot in any respect together with her OL Reign staff. She was simply getting back from harm and had performed a complete of 154 minutes for the whole season.

Given Andonovski’s insistence that every one nationwide staff call-ups should show themselves on the membership stage, the rationale for the decision up out of the blue grew to become fairly clear: It’s Megan Rapinoe.

Andonovski referred to as in Rapinoe as a result of he loves the swagger {that a} participant like Rapinoe brings. I do not assume he’s planning on giving her tons of minutes, however needs her there as an choice to convey off the bench in the event that they want a purpose, in the event that they want a elevate, and principally, to provide this youthful group confidence. It is her management and mentality that he seeks greater than something.

Yes, you get that management and veteran expertise with gamers like Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara and Alex Morgan, however there is just one Megan Rapinoe on the subject of that swagger. And I take you again to the primary bullet above: With over half the staff by no means having gone by way of a qualifier, Rapinoe brings stability greater than something. She has accomplished it at each stage — and the brighter the lights, the extra she glows. That confidence is contagious.

Remember, these CONCACAF W qualifiers are attention-grabbing notably as a result of they double because the Olympic qualifying match.

With 4 CONCACAF groups getting an computerized spot within the 2023 World Cup because of the expanded 2023 World Cup discipline, qualifying for the World Cup must be a given for the United States. The USWNT merely has to complete within the prime two of its group of Haiti, Jamaica and Mexico, and which suggests reaching the semifinal spherical of the match is sufficient to qualify for the 2023 World Cup. They do not should win the semifinal sport to qualify for the World Cup both — they only must get there.

But to get to the Olympics, that is the place issues get attention-grabbing: The U.S. should both win this CONCACAF W Championship match out-right or end in 2nd or third place for the best to play a playoff sport to get to the Olympics. Only two groups from CONCACAF will compete within the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

So buckle up: There may or couldn’t be turbulence on the subject of these qualifiers. Given how younger this group is, you simply by no means know. And that could be a variable I completely love.

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