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Emma Hayes Drops USWNT Olympic Roster, Leaves Morgan Off

uswnt sophia smith and tierna davidson celebrate at shebeilves cup 2024
While the 18-player Olympic roster features a few familiar faces, it also ushers in a new era. (Greg Bartram/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

The 18-player USWNT Olympic roster dropped on Wednesday, marking manager Emma Hayes’s first major tournament roster.

With Hayes's selections, the team appears to be going big on potential and versatility, while conceding a certain amount of experience. Lindsey Horan and Crystal Dunn as the team’s most experienced players, while the average age of the roster is 26.8 — the fourth-youngest Olympic roster and the youngest overall since 2008.

The current lineup averages 58 international caps per player, down from 111 at the Tokyo Olympics. It will be the first major tournament experience for Jenna Nighswonger, Korbin Albert, Sam Coffey, and Jaedyn Shaw. Additionally, Shaw becomes just the fifth teenager to ever make a USWNT Olympic roster, and the first since Mallory Swanson in 2016.

"Making an Olympic roster is a huge privilege and an honor and there is no denying that it was an extremely competitive process among the players and that there were difficult choices, especially considering how hard everyone has worked over the past 10 months," said Hayes in a US Soccer press release. "Choosing an 18-player roster plus alternates involved many considerations, but I am excited for the group we have selected and I’m looking forward to building on the work from last camp as we head into the send-off matches and then onto France. These are great opportunities for us to continue to show the progress we are making."

Only eight players from the Tokyo Olympics squad punched their tickets to Paris, while nine players will become first-time Olympians. 

Hayes appears to be thinking about the future, but this group will be looking to improve upon a disappointing 2023 Women's World Cup showing — or even top their bronze medal placement at the last Olympics.

"Everything we're doing is a step-by-step approach to get us as close as we possibly can to our best level, to our best version of ourselves," Hayes told media on Wednesday. "As I explained so far, this is a team that's making really good progress in doing that, and my interest and investment is getting our performances right."

One notable absence is USWNT and NWSL veteran Alex Morgan, who will miss the Summer Games for the first time since 2008. Hayes said Wednesday that it was difficult to adhere to the Olympics' 16 outfield player-limit throughout the roster-honing process.

"It was a tough decision of course, especially considering Alex's history and record with this team," Hayes said. "But I felt that I wanted to go in another direction."

"I want to talk about what an amazing player and human Alex Morgan has been," she continued. "There are players on the roster in the forward areas performing well, and the decision to take those players was one that we certainly deliberated over, but I think it's a balanced roster."

Without Morgan, not a single player on the USWNT Olympic roster has won a gold medal. 

"Today, I’m disappointed about not having the opportunity to represent our country on the Olympic stage," Morgan tweeted in response to her exclusion. "This will always be a tournament that is close to my heart and I take immense pride any time I put on the crest," she continued. "In less than a month, I look forward to supporting this team and cheering them on alongside the rest of our country. LFG"

Full USWNT roster:

  • Goalkeepers: Casey Murphy (NC Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)
  • Defenders: Tierna Davidson (Gotham FC), Emily Fox (Arsenal), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave), Casey Krueger (Washington Spirit), Jenna Nighswonger (Gotham FC), Emily Sonnett (Gotham FC)
  • Midfielders: Korbin Albert (Paris Saint-Germain), Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Rose Lavelle (Gotham FC), Catarina Macario (Chelsea)
  • Forwards: Crystal Dunn (Gotham FC), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Jaedyn Shaw (San Diego Wave), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns), Mallory Swanson (Chicago Red Stars)

Alternates: Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Hal Hershfelt (Washington Spirit), Croix Bethune (Washington Spirit), Lynn Williams (Gotham FC)

‘UNINTERRUPTED’s Top Class Tennis’ Debuts on Prime 

Still from tennis docuseries UNINTERRUPTED'S Top Class Tennis
'UNINTERRUPTED'S Top Class Tennis' follows four junior players as they prep for the Orange Bowl. (Amazon MGM Studios)

Prime Video is hitting the tennis court with Thursday's streaming premiere of UNINTERRUPTED's Top Class Tennis.

After four seasons of the men's high school basketball-focused Top Class: The Life and Times of The Sierra Canyon Trailblazers, athlete empowerment brand UNINTERRUPTED is expanding its purview to tennis with a new four-episode mixed-gender docuseries.

Junior tennis stars take centerstage

Behind the concept is 2017 US Open champion and world No. 45 pro Sloane Stephens, who co-executive produced the series alongside LeBron James and Maverick Carter, co-founders of UNINTERRUPTED and its production and entertainment development arm, The SpringHill Company.

Top Class Tennis follows four players on their journeys to the Orange Bowl, arguably the junior circuit’s Grand Slam equivalent. The Florida-based international tournament was established in 1947 and has crowned a long list of future pros as champions, from retired great Steffi Graf to current star Coco Gauff.

Stealing the spotlight this season is rising Harvard sophomore and 2022-23 USA Today Girls Tennis Player of the Year Stephanie Yakoff, as well as five-time junior title winner and incoming Texas freshman Ariana Anazagasty-Pursoo. Both already have WTA creds, with Yakoff featuring at the 2023 BNP Paribas Open while Anazagasty-Pursoo competed on three Grand Slam courts.

Kamilla Cardoso, Kiki Rice, Caitlin Clark, Holly Rowe and Kristen Lappas at the ESPN+ 'Full Court Press' premiere
ESPN+'s Full Court Press is one of several women's sports docs hitting the screen this year. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Women's sports storms the big screen

Top Class Tennis is just the latest in what's shaping up to be a women’s sports documentary boom.

From Max's LFG about the USWNT's fight for equal pay and Netflix's Under Pressure chronicling the 2023 World Cup to ESPN+’s 2023-24 NCAA basketball series Full Court Press, athletes in women’s sports have taken streamers by storm.

UNINTERRUPTED's Top Class Tennis is available for streaming now on Prime Video

JWS Launches ‘The Gold Standard’ Hosted by Olympians Kelley O’Hara & Lisa Leslie

the gold standard logo
'The Gold Standard' is just one of three new JWS shows tackling the Summer Olympics.

Just Women's Sports announced three new digital series on Thursday, headlined by The Gold Standard, a new studio show hosted by Olympic gold medalists and women's sports icons Kelley O'Hara and Lisa Leslie.

USWNT and NWSL great O'Hara, a two-time World Cup winner and Olympic gold and bronze medalist, is teaming up with three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie, herself a four-time Olympic gold medalist with Team USA, to bring viewers inside the world of Olympic women's sports. The pair will record each episode in-studio, with a series of special guests joining them throughout the show's run.

An insider's view of the Summer Games

The Gold Standard will debut on July 27th and cover the biggest women's sports stories from the Paris Olympics, giving fans a unique perspective by tapping into the insights and opinions of two legendary Olympians. 

"I know first-hand just how exciting and intense the Olympic Games can be," Leslie told JWS. "This show gives us a chance as athletes to bring fans closer to the experience, by sharing our unique insights into the Games. And with all the momentum we're seeing in women's sports, now is the perfect time to have a show dedicated to the biggest women's sports moments at the Olympic Games." 

"I can still remember watching the '96 Olympics and knowing that I wanted to be on that stage one day," says O'Hara. "Having the chance to compete in the Olympics and win gold was one of the highlights of my career. I'm looking forward to being a fan this time around and getting the chance to share my own perspective on the Games' biggest stories. Having teamed with Just Women's Sports before, I know this will be content that resonates with fans." 

The Gold Standard will live on Just Women's Sports' YouTube page, with select social cuts distributed across JWS digital platforms. The six-episode show will run through August 13th.

uswnt stars kelley o'hara and jaedyn shaw on jws digital series 1v1
1v1 with Kelley O'Hara will focus on USWNT players as they prep for the 2024 Olympics. (Just Women's Sports)

Additional series focus on USWNT's Olympic run

The Gold Standard is just one of three upcoming JWS series designed to invite fans to experience the Summer Games from an Olympian's point of view, with additional series zeroing in on the USWNT's 2024 Olympic run.

Ahead of the opening ceremony, JWS will launch the latest edition of 1v1, with host Kelley O'Hara interviewing three of her USWNT teammates: Emily Sonnett, Jaedyn Shaw, and Rose Lavelle. These peer-to-peer interviews provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the USWNT's preparation for their first major tournament under new manager Emma Hayes.

To round things out, JWS is also bringing back its award-winning series, The 91st. This tournament's edition will be hosted by retired USWNT star and World Cup champion Jessica McDonald alongside noted soccer personalities Jordan Angeli and Duda Pavão. The 91st will follow the USWNT as it looks to go for gold against a stacked international field at the Paris Olympics — including reigning World Cup winners Spain.

Each new digital series leans on the expertise of its accomplished hosts and special guest stars, providing fans with candid, personality-driven commentary surrounding this summer's biggest event.

Costa Rica Holds USWNT to 0-0 Draw in Frustrating Olympic Send-Off

USWNT midfielder Lindsey Horan dribbles the ball by Costa Rica forward Melissa Herrera and midfielder Gloriana Villalobos
The USWNT had 12 shots on goal on Tuesday despite failing to find the back of the net. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

The USWNT didn't quite get the going away party they were hoping for, settling for a 0-0 draw with Costa Rica on Tuesday in their final tune-up match before the 2024 Olympics kick off next week.

The US produced 26 shots — 12 on target — alongside 67 touches in the box, the most in any match where they failed to convert a single goal since at least 2015, per Opta. Yet they also faced a heroic performance from Costa Rica goalkeeper Noelia Bermúdez, who tallied 12 saves on the night.

USWNT starters remained mostly intact

After Saturday's win over Mexico, USWNT manager Emma Hayes opted for a very similar starting XI, only swapping Crystal Dunn in for Jenna Nighswonger due to load management.

Named starter Rose Lavelle was a late scratch from the lineup after team warmups, with US Soccer attributing her last-minute absence to "leg tightness." Lavelle was replaced by midfielder Korbin Albert, giving the US a slightly less aggressive attacking edge throughout the match.

Casey Krueger, Lynn Williams, Jaedyn Shaw, Emily Sonnett, and rookie Croix Bethune all got minutes in the second half, coming off the bench to contend with Washington, DC's brutally hot conditions.

USWNT forward Sophia Smith and Costa Rica midfielder Gloriana Villalobos battle for the ball
Costa Rica managed to fend off the USWNT with a strong defensive low-block. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY)

Costa Rica's low-block spelled trouble

"Listen, if you play a game of percentages or law of averages, we're creating more and more high-quality chances, and we're getting numbers into key areas — we're getting touches in the key areas," Hayes told reporters after the match, calling attention to Costa Rica's strong defensive low-block.

"The last part's the hardest part. And I'm really patient, because I've coached teams that have to break blocks down, and it's the hardest thing to do in coaching," she continued.

Hayes also noted the team's lack of training time under her management: The decorated coach officially joined the US in early June after finishing the WSL season with her previous club, league champs Chelsea FC.

USWNT pose for a picture after their send-off friendly against costa rica at Audi Field
The USWNT's Olympic group stage run kicks off on July 25th. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Where to watch the USWNT's Olympic games

Tuesday's draw is just the second time the USWNT has entered a major tournament off a non-win. Back in 2015, the US embarked on their legendary World Cup campaign after a 0-0 send-off draw with South Korea.

The next time the USWNT takes the pitch will be at the Paris Olympics, where they'll play Zambia on Thursday, July 25th at 3 PM ET. The match will be broadcast live on USA, with streaming options available on Peacock.

The Late Sub Podcast: This Is Sophia Smith’s USWNT Attack Now

Sophia Smith dribbles during the USWNT's 1-0 win over Mexico on Saturday.
Sophia Smith scored the lone goal in the USWNT's 1-0 win over Mexico last Saturday. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

This week, JWS podcast host Claire Watkins breaks down the days leading up to the first USWNT Olympic send-off friendly, discussing player performances, things that worked well on the pitch, and what still needs developing as coach Emma Hayes's team moves towards a crucial Olympic competition set to will dictate the future of the team.

She then sets her sights on the WNBA, previewing WNBA All-Star Weekend and chatting with Gatorade Women’s Basketball Player of the Year Joyce Edwards alongside Dallas Wings forward Satou Sabally.

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