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How Ashley Hatch responded to USWNT snub in the NWSL

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Ashley Hatch returned to the Washington Spirit in July after being one of the last cuts from the USWNT's World Cup roster. (Ray Acevedo/USA TODAY Sports)

Ashley Hatch hasn’t let a World Cup snub get her down.

Before the U.S. women’s national team’s World Cup roster announcement in June, Hatch appeared to be a lock for the squad. A frequent member of U.S. camps over the last two years, she was the NWSL’s top scorer in 2021 and is currently tied for second in the league with eight regular-season goals — three behind Sophia Smith, who started for the USWNT at the World Cup.

One of the last cuts from the U.S. roster, Hatch returned to the Washington Spirit and continued to thrive in Challenge Cup play away from the World Cup. Despite Hatch’s production (two goals and an assist) and a 2-1 record in their last three Challenge Cup games, the Spirit missed out on the knockout rounds of the in-season competition.

Currently in fourth place in the NWSL regular-season standings, the 2021 champions are primed to make a push toward the playoffs, drawing the Houston Dash 1-1 on Saturday in their return from the break. And Hatch, 28, will be a big part of those efforts.

In four consecutive seasons with the Spirit, Hatch has scored at least seven goals — the only player to score more in the NWSL since 2021 is Smith. Her 0.70 expected goals (xG) per game in 2023 ranks as the best in the league, ahead of Smith.

Hatch has been nothing if not consistent, both in the NWSL and in international play. Ahead of the World Cup, she was one of the few healthy USWNT forwards to have scored a goal in 2023, with one against New Zealand in January.

“I’m gutted,” Hatch wrote on Instagram following the roster announcement. “I think I’ve felt almost every adjective there is to explain how I feel about not making this World Cup roster. I am still in the process of navigating all these feelings and emotions and trying to comprehend it all while still performing and playing games for the Spirit.”

The USWNT scored just four goals across five games at the World Cup, which ended with a Round of 16 defeat to Sweden in a penalty shootout.

Back in the U.S., Hatch has continued to produce for the Spirit, earning NWSL Player of the Month honors for July after tallying a brace and an assist in a July 28 Challenge Cup game against Gotham FC.

Those were Hatch’s first goals of Challenge Cup play, but across all competitions, she has 10 goals (on 25 shots on goal) and three assists. She has helped lead her team to 23 goals through 16 regular-season games, tied for second in the NWSL.