The U.S. women’s national team has long dominated international soccer – the program has won four World Cups, two more than second-place Germany – but after the team’s early exit in the 2023 tournament, conversation has shifted to the future of the game.
Midge Purce, for instance, is “concerned” about the USWNT’s youth system. The U-20 USWNT failed to get out of the group stage at the 2022 World Cup.
“I think we should be concerned, about our approach, our tactical approach, and what kind of system and style and identity as American soccer players we are instilling into our youth teams,” Purce said on “The 91st,” the Just Women’s Sports podcast she co-hosts with Katie Nolan. “We really, really need to think about, long-term, what change needs to happen.
“To be fair, I think they’re thinking about it. I don’t think anyone is looking at the youth programs and saying, ‘Yeah, we’re cool. We’re good with that.’ No. It’s very obvious. You don’t have to be smart to see it, and I think everyone does.”
Megan Rapinoe, who played in her fourth and final World Cup this year, expressed a similar sentiment in an interview with The Atlantic.
“From an overall federation perspective, it is worth at least a deep-dive look at our structure. We haven’t done that well in youth tournaments,” she said. “I think a more consistent style and a more consistent philosophy from the younger teams all the way up through the senior teams is necessary.”
She noted that European countries have a more sophisticated academy system than the United States.
“It’s a lot more difficult in America,” Rapinoe said. “They’re honestly better set up for a more holistic approach. It’s going to be more difficult here.”