It's a new era for the United States Women's National Team.
After going out in the Round of 16 during the 2023 World Cup, which was the earliest the team had ever been knocked out, former head coach Vlatko Andonovski and U.S. Soccer parted ways.
Now, former assistant coach Twila Kilgore has stepped up to the plate as interim head coach. Kilgore named her first 27-player roster that will take the pitch on September 21 at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, and September 24 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois.
“The Olympics may seem like they are far away, but the amount of time that the players get with the National Team between now and Paris is not a lot, so we need to start that journey now,” said Kilgore. “No matter who the coach is, or which players get to wear the crest, the standards remain the same and everyone wants to excel, so we’ll be looking forward to putting together two good performances against a South Africa team that showed well at the World Cup.”
The roster features 21 of the 23 World Cup players with Kristie Mewis and Sophia Smith being sidelined due to injuries. Trinity Rodman, Alex Morgan, and Lynn Williams can be expected to be big leads on the front line.
Julie Ertz will undeniably get the nod to start in Cincinnati and the same goes for Rapinoe in Chicago. Rose Lavelle, a Cincinnati native, is also on the roster so you can expect her to get some substantial minutes, as well as crowd-decked in Lavelle jerseys.
Of the players who represented the nation in Australia and New Zealand, four played every single minute of the tournament; Julie Ertz, Andi Sullivan, Alyssa Naeher, and Naomi Girma.
Ertz recently announced her retirement from soccer after the conclusion of the World Cup. She will play her final game in the red, white, and blue on September 21.
Her journey to the 2023 tournament was a bit unconventional, with Ertz having not played games since the 2021 Olympics. However, her presence was crucial to the team. The go-getter attitude and fierceness of a player of her caliber will be missed on the team.
Ertz was part of the 2015 and 2019 teams that won the coveted World Cup and accomplished the difficult feat of doing so back-to-back. She also appeared in the 2016 Olympics where, similarly to the 2023 World Cup, the team got knocked out by Sweden in penalty kicks.
With over 100 caps, 20 goals, two World Cup trophies, and a U.S. Soccer Player of the Year award to her name Ertz has had quite the career, and the game will certainly miss her.
Megan Rapinoe will also be hanging up her boots after this window of games. Her final USWNT match will take place on September 24 in Chicago. Rapinoe, who spent the first years of her career in Chicago, announced her retirement before the World Cup. And, while the tournament did not go how the veteran probably would have liked to be sent off, it was one last moment to be Pinoe in style.
Rapinoe was part of the 2011, 2015, 2019, and 2023 World Cups, one of just 12 USWNT players to appear in four or more World Cups. She also appeared in the 2012 and 2020 Olympics, missing out on 2016 due to an ACL injury.
Rapinoe ends her career with just over 200 caps, 63 goals, a Ballon d'Or, FIFA 2019 World Cup Best Player, the 2019 Golden Ball, and Golden Boot, plus a Presidential Medal of Freedom. While she will not be on the pitch this will without a doubt not be the last we see of Rapinoe.
A notable nod is Washington Spirit forward Ashley Hatch who just missed out on the World Cup but will now begin her case to make the Olympics which are coming up in ten months. Tierna Davison, who was part of the 2019 team but missed out on the 2023 tournament, is also back in the mix after recovering from her ACL injury.
Casey Krueger, a defender for the Chicago Red Stars and part of the 2021 Olympic team, also makes her return to this squad. Krueger has 38 caps to her name but with a new coach coming in, there are hopes to see that number consistently grow.
Another player who has been in the mix but was unfortunately cut before the World Cup is a midfielder for the Portland Thorns, Sam Coffey. Coffey captained the Thorns while the national team players were away. She is extremely technical on the ball, and while no one can replace Julie Ertz, Coffey is a close option. At only four caps, she does not have any major tournament experience but would be a key addition to the Olympic roster that the team is now planning for.
Mia Fishel, who recently signed with Chelsea after starting her professional career with Tigres, received her first call-up since October 2020. That call-up came when former coach Andonovski was just beginning his tenure with the team and held a large ID camp to widen the player pool.
However, she went without a call from that moment until now. Fishel has extensive youth national team experience, having represented the United States at many levels. Notably her best experience at a youth level comes from the 2019 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup and was the USA’s leading scorer with 13 goals at the 2020 Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship.
Jaedyn Shaw is another new face on the senior team. Shaw, who plays with the San Diego Wave in the NWSL, has had an exceptional debut season at the pro level. At just 18 years old, she has impressive accolades to her name with experience at the 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and many CONCACAF tournaments over her youth team experience. Shaw currently has five goals on the season for the Wave and carries herself with the poise of a veteran.
Both Shaw and Fishel hope to get their first senior caps during this FIFA window and with the Olympics fast approaching getting experience is crucial now.
"We're really excited to have both Jaedyn and Mia in the squad. They've both been performing really well in their home markets. They have a lot of talent," said Kilgore. "We view them as high potentials, but the idea with bringing them into the environment, Mia for her just her second camp, and Jaedyn for her first, is just to expose them to the current environment, help with their onboarding, get them used to what the expectations are and make sure they have a pathway for the
South Africa had an incredible World Cup run, so the game will be a tough challenge for a USWNT side that has some disconnects to figure out. With a new coach, a new perspective, and some new faces, this team has all the potential in the world to gel and excel.