USA Women’s World Cup team led by Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe

ESPN21 June 2023 at 11:30 a.m. ET5 minutes of reading

Lawson: Rapinoe inclusion is crucial for younger USWNT players

Sebi Salazar and Sophie Lawson discuss the inclusion of Megan Rapinoe ahead of what will be her fourth World Cup for the USWNT.

US coach Vlatko Andonovski named his 23-player squad for the 2023 Women’s World Cup on Wednesday, with Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe both selected for the fourth time in their careers and 14 players making their World Cup debuts.

Veteran Julie Ertz also made the cut after returning from injury in April following a long spell away from action, while Alyssa Thompson, her Angel City FC teammate and NWSL No. 1 pick in 2023, was also included in the tournament in Australia and New Zealand, which starts on July 20.

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Rapinoe is the oldest player on the list at 37 years old. She turns 38 on July 5.

Andonovski emphasized the importance of Rapinoe’s leadership.

“Megan Rapinoe will probably have a different role than the last World Cup or the previous two World Cups,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “She’s going to get different types of minutes, but her leadership role is so important and her performance on the court is very valuable to us. She’s expected to get minutes in the playoffs.”

Asked about joining Rapinoe for their fourth World Cup together, Morgan said: “I’m just as excited as I was for my first World Cup.

“I hope to make the biggest impact for this team on and off the pitch. I want to show younger players who haven’t been to a major tournament what to expect. I’ve already spoken to some of the other experienced players [like Rapinoe] about how to bring these players together and how we can all come together and be incredibly fluid as we go through this World Cup.”

Thompson is the youngest player on the roster at 18. She is the fourth teenager and second-youngest player ever to be named to a U.S. World Cup roster behind only current USWNT assistant coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak.

The two-time defending champion Americans will be without captain and veteran defender Becky Sauerbrunn, who was left out of the squad due to a foot injury she suffered in April.

Sauerbrunn, who won two world championships with the USWNT, confirmed in a statement that she will not recover from her injury in time and will miss the tournament. She is one of several injured American players to miss the tournament, including forward Mallory Swanson, who went down with a knee injury in April.

Andonovski said he will not yet appoint a new captain.

“Becky will always be our captain, everyone feels that way,” he said. “Unfortunately, she won’t be able to be with us and we haven’t spoken to team managers yet. And I want to talk to them and communicate that to the team before I make it public.”

Midfielders Sam Mewis and Catarina Macario are also out.

“The task of selecting a World Cup team is never easy, but I am proud of the players for their work ethic and focus during the process and of our coaching staff for doing the work to put together the best possible team,” Andonovski said. . “The players are the biggest influence on our environment; they push each other to be better and I know that as a group they are extremely motivated to do our country proud at the World Cup.

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“Every player has a different journey to get to this point, so our roster has some great stories and we have a really good mix of veterans and younger players.”

The USA will face the Netherlands, Vietnam and Portugal in Group E, with all of their matches taking place in New Zealand. The 2023 edition of the Women’s World Cup will be the first to include 32 teams, up from 24 in the previous two, both of which were won by the United States

Final rosters are expected July 9, and Andonovski said he would not make any announcements before that date about alternates.

“In terms of alternatives, we will not have any public announcements,” he said. “But we have names in place should anything happen within the next 30-35 days.”

Andonovski highlighted Thompson’s journey to this World Cup berth.

“What a turnaround in the last nine months,” he said. “In October she was playing youth football and now in July she will be on the biggest football stage in general.

“Looking back, we had followed Alyssa since the U-20 World Cup. For us, Alyssa is a great player with some exceptional skills and abilities and we believe she will be important for us at this World Cup.”

Full list of US Women’s National Team by position (club; caps/goals):

TARGET POWERS (3): Aubrey Kingsbury* (Washington Spirit; 1), Casey Murphy* (North Carolina Courage; 14), Alyssa Naeher*** (Chicago Red Stars; 90)

DEFENDERS (7): Alana Cook* (OL Reign; 24/1), Crystal Dunn** (Portland Thorns FC; 131/24), Emily Fox* (North Carolina Courage; 28/1), Naomi Girma* (San Diego Wave ) FC; 15/0), Sofia Huerta* (OL Reign; 29/0), Kelley O’Hara**** (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 157/3), Emily Sonnett** (OL Reign; 74/1 )

MIDFIELDERS (7): Savannah DeMelo* (Racing Louisville FC; 0/0), Julie Ertz*** (Angel City FC; 118/20), Lindsey Horan** (Olympique Lyon, FRA; 128/27), Rose Lavelle* * (OL Reign; 88/24), Kristie Mewis* (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 51/7), Ashley Sanchez* (Washington Spirit; 3/24), Andi Sullivan* (Washington Spirit; 44/3)

FORWARD (6): Alex Morgan**** (San Diego Wave FC; 206/121), Megan Rapinoe**** (OL Reign; 199/63), Trinity Rodman* (Washington Spirit; 17/2), Sophia Smith * (Portland Thorns FC; 29/12), Alyssa Thompson* (Angel City FC; 3/0), Lynn Williams* (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 52/15)

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