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Lynn Williams grapples with USWNT’s ‘daunting’ burden of excellence

(Richard Callis/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Lynn Williams made her World Cup debut this summer with the U.S. women’s national team. Yet while she was playing in her first tournament, she still felt the weight of expectations placed upon the world’s premier women’s soccer team.

So while the 2023 World Cup provided a career highlight for Williams, she also understands that the USWNT did not measure up to its high standards, as she told co-host Sam Mewis on Just Women’s Sports‘ “Snacks” podcast. A historic exit in the Round of 16 followed by head coach Vlatko Andonovski’s resignation leaves the team preparing for a new era.

“What’s unique about this team is that the standard, and not just within us but everywhere around the world, is that if we don’t win, we fail,” Williams said. “And I think to hold that standard is on one hand, it’s an honor. And on the other hand, it’s really daunting.

“The U.S. women’s national team has to go through so much more and carry so much [more] than I think other national teams have to. That’s not an excuse for how we played, I just think it’s the reality of the situation.”

When it comes to the specifics of their performance on the field, Williams doesn’t “even know where to begin.”

“I just think we were too talented to have the outcome that we did,” she said.

Still, on an individual level, Williams recognizes the magnitude of what she has accomplished, having played in the World Cup as one of 23 members of the USWNT. And on a global level, she sees the tournament as a marker of the growth of the women’s game.

“The teams, the investment, what Australia just did and to promote women’s soccer,” Williams said. “All of those things I can recognize and say I was a part of that. And that’s so cool in the history of Lynn Williams and soccer.”