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Lindsey Horan: USWNT was not set up to succeed at 2023 World Cup

(Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

The U.S. women’s national team did not set its players up for success heading into the 2023 World Cup, captain Lindsey Horan said.

The 29-year-old midfielder reflected on the USWNT’s World Cup run in conversation with Christen Press and Tobin Heath, her teammates on the 2019 title-winning team. During that tournament, the coaching staff prepared players to come up big in the biggest moments. But that did not happen in 2023, Horan said on “The RE-CAP Show.”

Head coach Vlatko Andonovski resigned after the USWNT’s Round of 16 exit. While Horan did not mention him by name, she did share what she wants to ask his successor.

“(How do you plan on) getting the best out of your team without overcomplicating everything? Because I could talk about the last four-year cycle, and we don’t need to get into every single thing, but that’s not what we did,” she said. “We did not get the best out of every single individual. I don’t think everyone was fully prepared.”

Horan did not absolve the players of guilt, noting that any lack of preparation falls on their shoulders as well. She also shared her individual regrets, saying she has asked herself constantly in the weeks following the tournament: “What more could I have done to help the team?”

As the captain, Horan had taken it upon herself to mentor the younger players, particularly Sophia Smith, as they dealt with the pressures of their first World Cup.

“Could I have done more to help those players? Because I don’t think we got the absolute best out of some of them because of the way that we were set up,” she said, referencing the structure put in place heading into the tournament as a potential limiting factor.

Still, Press and Heath, who sat out this year’s tournament with injuries, praised Horan for her leadership.

“I think that you shined in an environment where there was very little light,” Press said. “And I think that you can have a lot of peace with how you carried the team through that tournament.”