Ashley Sanchez’s World Cup experience did not match her expectations.
Head coach Vlatko Andonovski had laid out her role with the U.S. women’s national team ahead of the tournament, she said. But the 24-year-old midfielder did not receive any playing time across the USWNT’s four matches in Australia and New Zealand.
“Let’s just say the role (I was told I would fill) was not what I played,” she told the Washington Post on Wednesday.
Sanchez played in all eight USWNT matches in 2023 ahead of the World Cup, averaging 50 minutes per match. But at the World Cup, the attacking midfielder found herself supplanted in the depth chart, first by USWNT newcomer Savannah DeMelo and then by defender Emily Sonnett.
While Sanchez declined to elaborate on her World Cup playing time, she made a statement in her NWSL return with the Washington Spirit, scoring 40 seconds after she subbed into Saturday’s match.
“Revenge mode was coming,” Spirit head coach Mark Parsons said. “It came really quick, and I think that helps. Being involved, she’s now feeling good.”
While Parsons said he understands that Sanchez would not have fit in every USWNT formation, he does believe she would have been an asset to the game plan for some of the matches.
“There were at least a couple of games, tactically, that’s Sanchez,” Parsons said. “And some games would have been harder for Sanchez.”
The Spirit sent four players to the World Cup with the USWNT. Aubrey Kingsbury, a backup goalkeeper for the U.S. but a starter for the Spirit, also made her NWSL return Saturday. Trinity Rodman and Andi Sullivan, each of whom played significant minutes at the World Cup, received additional time off due to their workload, but both were happy to see Sanchez find her groove.
“I jumped off the couch and started screaming,” Rodman said of Sanchez’s goal. “That was so sick. I saw it coming from a mile away, as soon as she started dribbling up the field. I was like, ‘Yep, she’s back.’”