The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) is looking to win the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the third time in a row, and head coach Vlatko Andonovski has some tough choices to make when it comes to roster selection.
There are some players that are sure things, but with so much talent in the women’s game, he has so many players to pick from to round out his squad. There are high expectations to get the perfect team together in order to win this historic tournament, so the pressure is on.
We should be getting the official roster any day now, but until then, let’s make some predictions on who will be on the plane to Australia and New Zealand later this summer. As a fan of the USWNT and the National Women’s Soccer (NWSL), I’ve got some opinions.
Sure things: Alyssa Neaher, Casey Murphey
Naeher has been the No. 1 goalkeeper for the USWNT since the 2019 World Cup, and has consistently held that position since. I’d expect Naeher to start almost every game. Her leadership on the back line is invaluable, and she’s used to playing in high pressure situations.
Murphey has also been favored by Andonovski in the last few years. I haven’t been too impressed with her play in the NWSL, but she’s been pretty consistent when she’s played for the National Team.
On the fence: AD Franch
Franch was on the 2019 squad, so she has experience being in a World Cup setting, despite not playing during the last tournament. She would be my No. 2 pick for goalkeepers, but she hasn’t had a great season in the NWSL season so far. This makes me thing that her ticket to New Zealand isn’t a sure thing yet.
Wild Card: Aubrey Kingsbury, Phallon Tullis-Joyce
Kingsbury has trained with the National Team before, so it wouldn’t be too surprising if she got the final call-up. In my opinion, Tullis-Joyce is the best goalkeeper in the NWSL right now, so why not get the youngster into a high pressure World Cup so she’s ready in the next cycle.
Final predictions: Alyssa Naeher, Casey Murphey, AD Franch
Sure things: Becky Sauerbrunn, Crystal Dunn, Naomi Girma, Emily Fox
There is no doubt that any of the players I mentioned above are not going to be on that roster. In my opinion, there are the starting back line for the team. Sauerbrunn is the captain, Girma is the best defender on the team and Dunn and Fox are the best outside backs we have.
On the fence: Kelley O’Hara, Emily Sonnett, Alana Cook, Tierna Davidson
O’Hara has been battling an injury, so if she’s healthy enough to play, she goes. Her veteran leadership will be needed in a tournament like this. Sonnett can play multiple positions on the backline, as well as a defensive midfielder, so I think she’ll go.
Cook has been a solid center back, and could be a good sub for Sauerbrunn at any point in the tournament. Davidson still seems like she is coming back from her ACL injury, but I do think she’ll be on the roster. She was on the 2019 squad, and she has about a month to get even more fit.
Wild card: Casey Krueger, Sophia Huerta
I would absolutely love to see Krueger make it to the roster, as she was so close to making it in 2019. If O’Hara is not fit enough to go, I could see her stepping in for that final spot. Huerta is a talented defender when on offense, but opposing teams love to exploit her when she’s out of position. That could be a problem.
Final predictions: Becky Sauerbrunn, Crystal Dunn, Kelley O’Hara, Naomi Girma, Emily Fox, Emily Sonnett, Tierna Davidson, Alana Cook
Sure things: Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, Andi Sullivan, Julie Ertz
Rose Lavelle is battling an injury right now, but I honestly think she is going regardless. She is our best attacking midfielder, and even a slightly injured Lavelle is better than no Lavelle. Horan and Sullivan are also essential to the midfield, and have been constant starters for Andonovski.
Everyone had pretty much wrote off Ertz as a possibility for this tournament for a while now, so when it was announced she was returning, I almost cried tears of joy. Ertz may not be playing up to her full potential just yet, but her leadership is so valuable.
On the fence: Ashley Sanchez, Kristie Mewis
Sanchez has been a steady replacement for Lavelle, wither subbing in or replacing her as a starter. Plus, she’s having a fantastic NWSL season with the Washington Spirit. I think she’ll make it. Mewis, on the other hand, is more of a maybe. She rarely starts with the USWNT, but she’s had constant call-ups for the last three years or so. She’s a veteran presence, despite this being her first World Cup if she makes the roster.
Wild card: Taylor Kornieck
There is one thing that sets Kornieck apart from the rest of the players on the squad: she is 6 feet tall. Her height is such a threat, and Andonovski may want to take advantage of that.
Final predictions: Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, Julie Ertz, Andi Sullivan, Ashley Sanchez, Kristie Mewis
Sure things: Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Sophia Smith, Lynn Williams
Not only are Morgan and Rapinoe the most famous from the USWNT currently, they’re still playing at an amazing level. In a recent NWSL game, Rapinoe had three assists in just one game, and Morgan was the golden boot winner last year in the NWSL, meaning she scored the most goals out of any other player.
Sophia Smith is young, fast and an amazing goal scorer, and Lynn Williams is back in form after an injury and scoring goals left and right for her club team in the NWSL, Gotham FC. I’d expect a combination of these four players to be leading the front line every game.
On the fence: Trinity Rodman, Ashley Hatch
This is where things start to get tricky. With Mallory Swanson unable to play in the World Cup this summer due to her knee injury she unfortunately suffered in April, it leaves the door open for players like Rodman or Hatch to take her place.
Rodman is a dynamic player, and she has incredible chemistry with her NWSL Washington Spirit teammate, Sanchez. Hatch also plays for the Spirit and knows how to score lots of goals, but that always hasn’t translated when she’s played for the USWNT.
Wild card: Christen Press
If Press hadn’t tore her ACL last summer, I firmly believe she’d be with the squad heading to Australia and New Zealand. She still hasn’t returned from injury to play with her club team in the NWSL, but if she can get fit by the end of July, I still think there could be a chance for her. Before her injury she was playing wonderfully, and she adds leadership and calmness.
Final predictions: Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Sophia Smith, Lynn Williams, Trinity Rodman, Christen Press
And that’s it! Like I said, there is so much talent to pick from when it comes to filling out this 23-person roster, it’s just about finding the right players who are going to mesh well with each other, on and off the field.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup begins Thursday, July 20. The USWNT first three matches will be Friday, July 21 at 9 p.m. ET, Wednesday, July 26 at 9 p.m. ET and Tuesday, Aug. 1 at 3 a.m. ET.