Olivia Moultrie and Jenna Nighswonger made their debuts for the U.S. women’s national team in Saturday’s 3-0 win against China.
Moultrie, 18, and Nighswonger, 23, represent a growing youth movement for the USWNT. The roster for the December training camp underlined the changing of the guard, with several veteran stars receiving rest to provide the coaching staff with more chances to evaluate the next generation.
The NWSL Rookie of the Year, Nighswonger entered in the 62nd minute for Emily Fox. She received her first call-up ahead of the December friendlies after helping Gotham FC to the NWSL title.
“I keep repeating this word over and over again, but I’m just so grateful for everything this year, and I just feel so lucky to be surrounded by such great teammates that have helped me get here,” she said after the match.
Moultrie entered in the 71st minute for Rose Lavelle. The Portland Thorns midfielder becomes the second 18-year-old to debut for the USWNT in 2023, which marks the first time since 2005 that two players aged 18 or younger have made their USWNT debuts in the same year.
“I talked to her after the game. She was ecstatic, as you would imagine that she would be, but I think there’ll be no greater moments for her to come,” interim head coach Twila Kilgore said after the win.
The trend toward younger players also came through in the goals scored by the USWNT, with Trinity Rodman, 21, scoring one goal and assisting on two more. Sophia Smith, 23, also scored a goal, and Jaedyn Shaw, 19, assisted on Rodman’s goal.
Debut, x2 🇺🇸 https://t.co/93P5F3SvQR pic.twitter.com/8t9iUNdO5U— U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (@USWNT) December 2, 2023
Debut, x2 🇺🇸 https://t.co/93P5F3SvQR pic.twitter.com/8t9iUNdO5U