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Lindsey Horan wants more USWNT players on European clubs

Lindsey Horan high-fives USWNT forward Alex Morgan during the 2023 World Cup. (Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images)

Olympique Lyonnais and U.S. women’s national team midfielder Lindsey Horan wants to see more of her U.S. teammates playing in international leagues.

Horan is one of just three current USWNT players outside of the NWSL, with Catarina Macario and Mia Fishel playing under new USWNT head coach Emma Hayes at Chelsea. Horan has played for Lyon since 2022 after joining the club on loan from the Portland Thorns. She also spent time with Paris Saint-Germain from 2012 to 2016.

The 29-year-old midfielder was the lone player on the USWNT’s World Cup roster who played for a European club, with the other 22 playing in the NWSL.

Macario used to play alongside Horan at Lyon before joining Chelsea in the offseason. Fishel, meanwhile, joined Chelsea from Liga MX’s Tigres. Several USWNT stars, including Alex Morgan, have played for European clubs in the past, and several players have expressed interest in moving abroad in the future, Horan told Pro Soccer Wire.

“I’ve heard of [American] players wanting to [move to Europe],” Horan said. “Obviously, it’s comfortable in the NWSL and I won’t take anything away from the league, but for me, [playing abroad] has always been a growing point in my career. When I went to PSG, it was massive for me and then coming back to Lyon was even a bigger jump. I get to play with some of the best international players in the world.”

For Horan, the opportunity to play in the UEFA Women’s Champions League is unlike anything available in the NWSL — though Gotham FC’s Esther González recently said that every NWSL game is at the level of the Champions League.

“It’s not a knock on the NWSL, but you’re just not going and playing in the Champions League,” Horan said. “That’s something that I missed out on when I was at Portland because it’s just insane.”

Players moving to European leagues could become more common under the newly-minted USWNT coach, as Hayes has spent 12 years with Chelsea.

“There is still a huge amount of talent in this U.S. team,” Hayes wrote in a column for The Telegraph during the World Cup. “But with so many of the squad playing solely in the NWSL, it doesn’t offer enough diversity to their squad in terms of playing against different styles.”

Horan would like to see more USWNT players expand their playing horizons.

“It’s just a different kind of exposure that you get, a different level that you get,” Horan said. “I really hope that there’s more, especially younger players, that want to go overseas.”