As the U.S. women’s national team prepares for the 2023 World Cup, the NWSL is more important than ever before, star Alex Morgan said.
After the April friendlies against Ireland, USWNT players returned to their club teams for three months of action in the lead-up to the summer tournament. And with coach Vlatko Andonovski emphasizing the importance of club play in his roster selection, players’ NWSL form could “make or break” their World Cup chances, Morgan revealed on the latest episode of Snacks.
“It’s kind of a different mindset and approach, because with any other previous World Cup or Olympics, you basically have a couple camps leading up. We never had two months uninterrupted [in the] NWSL,” she said. “Forget about even leading into a World Cup, just in general. We’ve never had two months of uninterrupted time.”
Snacks co-host Lynn Williams affirmed that two months is “a long time.” And with club play dictating Andonovski’s decision-making, Williams admitted to some nerves about what could be her first World Cup — even though she has three goals in four games for Gotham FC.
“For me, instead of looking forward and saying, I gotta do all these things to make the roster, I’m just trying to focus on the present and be like, I’m just gonna try to improve and get better every single day and take every game like it’s your last game,” she said.
Andonovski’s outlook on club play hasn’t gone unnoticed by players.
“I feel like Vlatko has said something which no coach has ever really come out and said, which is like, your club play really dictates right now if you’re gonna make this team and what kind of time you’re looking at,” Morgan said. “Obviously players can come into form before the World Cup and during the World Cup, but he’s like, ‘I’m coming to games.’
“He was at the Seattle-San Diego game that we just played. He’s going to games every weekend, looking at players. I feel like that’s the first time that we’ve had a coach come out and just be like, ‘Yeah, your club play is important and that’s what’s going to make or break a spot for you.’”
Even with the World Cup pressure, the added time with her club has been a welcome change, at least for Morgan.
“I actually think having this time is kind of nice in a way to like focus just on one team,” she said. “I feel like I’m always in two mindsets, especially in a major tournament year. And I feel like you almost have to just be like, ‘Yes, World Cup is coming up, but I need to perform on this team so I need to focus on this.’”