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  • Writer's pictureSavannah Miscik

Major Takeaways from the USWNT World Cup Roster Press Conference

On June 21, United States Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski answered questions from the press about the newly-released World Cup roster. His answers can largely be split into two groups: injuries and justifying roster decisions.


Injuries

Andonovski talked at length about the status of the United States’ injured players. The first words he said were about US captain Becky Sauerbrunn’s absence, saying the team is “gutted” that she will not be at the World Cup. He also mentioned that forward Mallory Swanson is still recovering from her injury and was “not close” to making the roster as a result.


Then he discussed the status of Rose Lavelle, who last played on April 8 due to injury. Andonovski said that he was “not worried” about her and she will likely get minutes during the send-off game in July. Interestingly, he noted that Ashley Sanchez and Savannah DeMelo will fill the gaps when Lavelle’s minutes are being managed.

Rose Lavelle dribbles in game against Ireland on April 8, 2023. Photo by Ely Garcia for WSX.

Like Lavelle, the status of team veteran Megan Rapinoe was also clarified. Andonovski said that Rapinoe is progressing well and will probably get some minutes in the send-off game. When asked about Rapinoe’s role on the team for this World Cup, the coach said that Rapinoe will be getting a “different type of minutes.” This wording seems to indicate Rapinoe acting more as a “super sub” or even as a momentum shifter. According to Andonovski, Rapinoe’s leadership is invaluable to the team, especially with the massive target on the team’s back as they try to achieve a fifth star.


Roster Decisions

The United States head coach answered many questions about specific players’ call-ups (or lack thereof). Because of Ashley Hatch’s exclusion from the roster, it is not immediately apparent who will cover Alex Morgan at the 9 position. Andonovski named Sophia Smith, Lynn Williams, Trinity Rodman, and Alyssa Thompson as potential candidates, noting they all have played the position at the club level. Regarding Williams’ abilities specifically, Andonovski added coyly, “I don’t think Lynn will surprise us.”

Lynn Williams smiling during walkouts of game against Brazil on Feb. 22, 2023. Photo by Ely Garcia for WSX.

Speaking of Alyssa Thompson, Andonovski spoke highly of the 18-year-old, praising her “exceptional skills” on the field. He also made sure to point out that the coaching staff was “happy” with how she dealt with the pressure of playing England at Wembley Stadium in October 2022. These words seem to be aimed directly at those who think the teen may be unprepared for the pressure of a major international tournament. Only time will tell whether the coaching staff is correct about Thompson, but it’s obvious they’re confident in her.


The other potential “wildcard” pick is midfielder Savannah DeMelo, who is the first player since 2003 to make the United States World Cup roster without having a single cap. Andonovski explained that DeMelo was being evaluated by the staff both in camp and club settings. He needed to see “consistency” from her with Racing Louisville this season before he was willing to add her into the mix. Eight goals (in all competitions) later, Andonovski got his answer.


Coach Andonovski also had nothing but praise for midfielder Kristie Mewis, calling her a “mature player” that “understands her role” on the team. He described her as “selfless,” working well with others in camp and impressing the coaching staff.


It’s also worth noting that defender Crystal Dunn noted that there were “no conversations” between her and Coach Andonovski regarding potentially playing as a midfielder (her club position) during the tournament. She declared that she was “ready for [her] new role” as a defender and is ready to help the team in whatever way possible.


Concluding Thoughts

It seems that the United States are excited about the World Cup and ready to get the legendary “three-peat.” Despite the injuries to key players like Becky Sauerbrunn and Catarina Macario, Andonovski feels confident that players will step up to replace them. He wants to “help this team make history.”


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