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Alex Morgan: ‘We all have to buy in’ to Vlatko Antonovski’s system

(Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images)

The U.S. women’s national team reached the final of the Concacaf W Championship with a 3-0 win over Costa Rica on Thursday. But while the team has won all four of its matches so far in the tournament, the team has not played to its full potential, a reality acknowledged by the USWNT coach and players alike.

After the team’s 1-0 win over Mexico to end the group stage, coach Vlatko Andonovski said that the USWNT likely wouldn’t be ready for the World Cup if that tournament started now.

“I have to say if you asked me if we are ready to play in the World Cup tomorrow, we’re probably not ready for it,” Andonovski said. “But we are going to be ready in a year, absolutely.”

Veteran star Alex Morgan spoke to the team’s issues after Thursday’s match, saying that players need to do a better job of understanding “what the coach has given us.”

“The way that Vlatko wants us to play, it’s different every game,” said Morgan. “I think we are gaining momentum, and we’re doing better reading the game earlier and figuring it out on the field.”

The USWNT will need every player on the same page as it moves into the Concacaf tournament final Monday and the World Cup next year, according to Morgan.

“We all have to buy in, we can’t have one or two players not doing what they’re supposed to do because that ruins the whole flow of the game if we’re going to play in a certain structure,” she continued. “I think that’s important to know – it’s playing free, but knowing your role and that’s going to change from game to game.

“It’s different roles in every game and you just have to be willing to do a little bit of dirty work. Sometimes you get a little more freedom one game, and less freedom another game.”

Emily Sonnett, who scored the first goal against Costa Rica, said overall the team needs to be “sharper.”

“I don’t think our team is very satisfied with that,” she said. “There’s a lot that we need to focus on. But overall, I think we’ve competed, and I think we’ve stuck to game plans every single game. How do we put it all together now going forward?”

Players have had to assume different roles at times under Andonovski’s leadership. While that could be attributed in part to necessary transitions in the midfield, in part because both Julie Ertz (pregnancy) and Sam Mewis (injury) are not with the team this year, the team is still seeking to cement its identity.

The USWNT will next play Canada in the Concacaf championship match at 10 p.m. ET Monday. The match will mark their first meeting since last August’s Olympic semifinal, which Canada won 1-0.