The U.S. women’s national team is preparing to welcome its next head coach. And as the new chapter begins, college soccer stars could get their chances on the USWNT roster.
With the NCAA tournament kicking off Friday, Just Women’s Sports highlights four players who deserve a look from incoming USWNT coach Emma Hayes.
The recent debuts of Mia Fishel, 22, and Jaedyn Shaw, 18, underscored the shift in the national team, as a youth movement is beginning to take over in the presence of veterans. Already, Fishel and Shaw have provided a sneak peek at what the future could look like, with each scoring a goal in the last match against Colombia.
Our previous edition of this list picked out NWSL players who should get USWNT consideration. This time around, we turn to the college ranks to spotlight prospects who could receive call-ups in 2024.
A standout for Texas, which claimed a No. 5 seed in the 64-team bracket, Byars has the abilities to be a top pick in the 2024 NWSL draft. Through three seasons with the Longhorns, she has had 46 goals and 32 assists in 64 games. She also was an all-state sprinter in high school, making her an explosive forward with the power to outrun opposing defenses – a skill which has helped other USWNT forwards, including Mallory Swanson.
While the USWNT certainly has options at forward, Byars could warrant a look as the team retires star players such as Megan Rapinoe. She also has extensive youth experience, including being nominated for U.S. Soccer’s Young Female Player of the Year award in 2019.
Missimo is another star out of of Texas that has spent time in the USWNT’s youth system. The midfielder has been linked to both Manchester City and Arsenal, and she has at times been compared to the likes of Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis.
Considering what those three have accomplished, Missimo could be the next big thing for the USWNT midfield.
Oke transferred to UCLA from Cal ahead of the 2023 season, and she and the Bruins enter the NCAA tournament with a No. 1 seed. In the 2022 season, she posted nine assists as a right back.
The 20-year-old defender also has youth national team experience, playing as a starter on the U-23 national team in March 2023. She also played at the U-20 Women’s World Cup and helped the U.S. to the U-20 Concacaf Championship in 2022.
She’s been a part of U.S. Soccer’s youth system since the U-15 age group, and as the USWNT looks to replace aging defenders (and Emily Sonnett seemingly transitions to the midfield), Oke deserves a look.
Reilyn Turner, who became the first college athlete to sign an NIL deal with Nike, has been a star for UCLA in three seasons. In 2022, she was named the Most Outstanding Player at the College Cup, helping UCLA to the national championship. And in 2023, she is putting together her best year to date, with 10 goals and six assists through 18 games played.
While Turner would have to compete against a stacked forward group on the USWNT, she has the ability to show up in big moments. A fixture on U.S. youth national teams, she should see a senior USWNT call-up soon.