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Korbin Albert gets rude awakening in first minutes of USWNT debut

Korbin Albert is tended to by team training staff after being knocked down during the second half against China at Toyota Stadium on December 05, 2023. (Sam Hodde/Getty Images)

Twenty-year-old Korbin Albert was welcomed to the pitch for the first time as a member of the U.S. women’s national team with a swift, high cleat to the face.

Albert debuted for the USWNT in the team’s 2-1 win over China PR on Tuesday night in the final friendly of the year. She subbed on in the 69th minute for USWNT veteran Lindsey Horan, and less than 10 minutes later, Albert was kicked in the face just outside the 18-yard box. China’s Huo Yuexin received a yellow card for the infraction.

Albert remained in the game after the collision, and her nose became increasingly purple as time wore on. Postgame, she had a good attitude about the kick.

“I wasn’t as nervous as I thought, but then once I took that step onto the field? I was like ‘Oh my gosh, this is happening,’” Albert told reporters, according to The Athletic’s Meg Linehan. “I was like, calm down, calm my senses. And then when I got hit, it kind of rocked my head back into place.”

Even after being kicked, Albert made some quality contributions to her team. The foul earned the U.S. a free kick that led to the equalizing goal from Sam Coffey, and the midfielder delivered some corner kicks that created chances.

“I thought Korbin [Albert] showed a lot of maturity and poise coming in. She’s trained in multiple positions all week, which is not something we generally ask somebody who is yet to be capped,” USWNT interim head coach Twila Kilgore said. “She’s got a great mind for the game, she’s eager to play and combine with other people and that was very, very encouraging to see.”

Overall, Albert’s debut was a positive look into her future with the USWNT — and her bruised nose is already growing on her.

“I think it’s good,” Albert said after the game. “It’s gonna be a souvenir, it’s gonna be black, but it’s okay. It was worth it and I’m happy I got it to be honest.”