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Lynn Williams’ journey from ‘devastating’ 2019 snub to 2023 World Cup

Lynn Williams is making her World Cup debut this summer with the U.S. women's national team. (Ira L. Black/Getty Images)

Lynn Williams will make her World Cup debut this summer as one of the top forwards for the U.S. women’s national team.

But the journey to the 2023 tournament hasn’t been without its challenges. Williams was passed up for the 2019 World Cup roster, a moment she called “devastating.”

“Looking back now, obviously 2019 was devastating for me. I wasn’t even on the team all of 2018, I believe, or going into 2019,” she told co-host Sam Mewis on the latest episode of their Snacks podcast. “And it was obviously devastating because I thought I deserved to be there. I felt like I was good enough.”

Hindsight, though, is 20/20, and Williams admits now that she may not have been mentally prepared for a World Cup. At the time, Williams was touted for her speed – and she still is. But her game has grown: her defensive presence, her scoring touch and more make her a well-rounded star for the USWNT and a threat to opponents.

“Looking back, I’m like: Was I mentally ready to be there? I don’t think so,” she said, before noting the change in her game and her confidence.

“I believe I’m good enough. I believe I’m more than just being fast. I bring more to the team than just that,” she said. “But because the outside world has said this to me for so long that like at some point, I started believing it. I started putting so much of my game into what other people thought.

“And now I think like as I’ve gotten older, I’m like, ‘So what if I’m fast? Like if you can’t stop it, who cares?’ I don’t think that that’s all I am.”

Williams has been one of the best American players to start the year, for both club and country. She has seven goals in NWSL play, tied for third in the league, and she scored mere minutes into her return from injury for the USWNT in January.

So heading into the USWNT roster decision this time around, she had a good idea that she would be making the team. She credits her success on the field and her confidence in her World Cup spot to her change in mindset: She no longer cared about how other people defined her on the field, she said.

“I’m just going go play. I don’t care. I put everything into it. And at the end of the day, it’s subjective… But I literally did everything I could possibly do,” she said.