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Five USWNT prospects who could be ready for 2024 Olympics

Mia Fishel recently signed with Chelsea after a breakout rookie season in Liga MX Femenil last year. (Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images)

As the U.S. women’s national team heads home early from the 2023 World Cup, they’ll soon start preparing for the next big international tournament: the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The Games are a little less than a year away, which could be cause for panic after the USWNT suffered its earliest World Cup exit in history. With the potential for a new coaching hire and a new-look roster as veterans step away from the team, there could be many shake-ups on the horizon.

The U.S. will hope to welcome back several stars from injury, including forwards Mallory Swanson and Catarina Macario. But other injured players are question marks, as are some of the younger prospects who were left off the squad this time but could make their case in the next year. Here are five of them.

Jaedyn Shaw, Forward

Jaedyn Shaw had a case for making the USWNT’s 2023 World Cup roster. Coach Vlatko Andonovski included 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson on his final 23-player roster, and Shaw has similar promise and even more professional experience. The 18-year-old has made 22 appearances for the San Diego Wave and recorded seven goals, including four so far this season.

While no longer one of the youngest signings in the NWSL, she recently signed an extension with the Wave that will keep her with the NWSL club through 2026. She also won U.S. Soccer’s Young Player of the Year award in 2022, after a successful U-20 World Cup campaign.

“Obviously the national team recognition is going to keep coming if she keeps performing,” San Diego head coach Casey Stoney told Just Women’s Sports in June. “And we need to make sure that we look after her on and off the field, because she’s still an 18-year-old and she’s still young, and we need to make sure that she’s ready for everything that comes her way.”

By the time the 2024 Olympics roll around, Shaw will have three seasons of professional experience under her belt. While it might be difficult for Shaw to step in at forward given the USWNT’s depth at the position, she’s worthy of consideration and should earn her first senior international call-up sometime in the next year.

Mia Fishel, Forward

After being selected in the 2022 NWSL Draft, Fishel opted to forgo the NWSL in favor of playing for Tigres UANL in Liga MX Femenil. There, the 22-year-old went on an absolute tear, becoming the first foreign-born player to win the league’s Golden Boot with 17 goals while helping Tigres to the league title as a rookie. But it wasn’t enough to earn her a USWNT roster call-up.

Conversations grew more positive over time, with Andonovski noting that NWSL forwards were “performing as good and even better than Mia,” and later saying they were “having good conversations with” her and the USWNT was “happy for her success down there.”

“At the same time, she understands the competition that is on the national team and the players she is competing against,” Andonovski said last November. “She’s patiently waiting for her opportunity. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see her in a future camp.”

Yet, as of August 2023, Fishel has yet to feature for the USWNT.

“Mia is a very good young player, we are very familiar with her qualities,” Andonovski said in January. “But as of right now, after looking at everything, we decided the forwards that we have in camp are going to give us the best chance to be successful.”

In the meantime, Fishel continued to produce in Mexico, scoring 38 goals through 48 appearances. She’ll soon get more experience against top competition after signing with European powerhouse Chelsea last week. Her transfer fee ranks among the highest in the world, meaning Chelsea manager Emma Hayes is putting a lot of stock into Fishel becoming one of the best players in the world at her position.

As Fishel joins Chelsea, expect her USWNT prospects to change heading into Olympic roster selection.

Jaelin Howell (Maria Lysaker/USA TODAY Sports)

Jaelin Howell, Midfield

At 23 years old, Howell has one goal in five international appearances, scoring against Uzbekistan last year. She began 2023 with a USWNT call-up before seemingly falling off Andonovski’s radar.

When it comes to the role of defensive midfielder, Howell is elite. The 2022 No. 2 draft pick ranks in the 90th percentile or better in tackles, interceptions, clearances and aerials won in the NWSL. Her pass completion is 80.2 percent this season for Racing Louisville, and she’s creating 1.76 shot attempts per 90, which is good for seventh in the NWSL. She’s also first in the NWSL in tackles and tackles won, and she ranked first blocks in 2022.

Why Howell hasn’t gotten a deeper look for the USWNT is a mystery, though that could change heading into 2024 — especially given how some of her Racing Louisville teammates performed at this year’s World Cup.

Sam Coffey, Midfield

Sam Coffey was one of a few players who drew the short straw for the USWNT’s World Cup roster. One of the team’s biggest snubs alongside forward Ashley Hatch, Coffey had been having a great start to the NWSL season at the No. 6 position. But her style of play didn’t always fit with Andonovski’s tactical decisions, and with Andi Sullivan out-playing her in camp and the return of Julie Ertz, there wasn’t room for the 24-year-old.

Coffey continues to develop her game as a holding midfielder, a position of need for the U.S. in the absence of Ertz, who announced her retirement after the Round of 16 loss.

“Her time will come, I have no doubt,” USWNT star forward Sophia Smith said following the roster announcement. “I fully believe that she will be the holding midfielder on the national team for a very long time.”

Phallon Tullis-Joyce (Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA TODAY Sports)

Phallon Tullis-Joyce, Goalkeeper

Even after her heroics in the USWNT’s Round of 16 game, USWNT goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher’s time with the team will come to an end at some point. The 35-year-old will have a shot at the 2024 Olympic roster, and maybe even the 2027 World Cup, but the U.S. will need to start developing their next No. 1 keeper

While both Casey Murphy and Aubrey Kingsbury are worthy options, Phallon Tullis-Joyce continues to play her way into consideration for a USWNT look.

Tullis-Joyce has been one of the NWSL’s best goalkeepers over the last two seasons, ranking first in the league with 0.86 goals against per 90 minutes last season and currently sixth at 1.20 through 15 games this season. Her save percentage is lower this year than it was in 2022, but is still above 70 percent. As the USWNT builds out its goalkeeper depth chart for 2024, the 26-year-old has made a strong case for inclusion.