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Olivia Moultrie’s debut leaves USWNT coaching staff ‘very pleased’

Olivia Moultrie made her USWNT debut in Saturday's 3-0 win against China. (Carl Kafka/ISI Photos/Getty Images for USSF)

Eighteen-year-old Olivia Moultrie impressed in her debut for the U.S. women’s national team in 3-0 win against China on Dec. 2.

Moultrie came on as a substitute in the 71st minute for Rose Lavelle, becoming the first player born in 2005 to earn a cap. She played the rest of the game in a midfield role behind young forwards Jaedyn Shaw, 19, and Mia Fishel, 22.

“Very, very pleased with Liv,” USWNT interim head coach Twila Kilgore said after the match. “I know I talked to her after the game, she was ecstatic, as you would imagine that she would be, but I think there’ll be greater moments for her to come.”

Moultrie started training with the Portland Thorns at 13 years old, and she officially signed with the NWSL club in 2021 at 15 years old following a legal battle over her right to play. Two years later, she registered one shot on target in her debut for the senior national team.

Kilgore praised Moultrie’s playmaking ability, going so far as to say that she wishes the squad would’ve gotten the ball to her more.

“I think she went in and occupied spaces really well,” Kilgore said. “I felt like we could have found her more and when we did find her I thought she was very good in combination and looking to play forward, tried some things, we asked her to be brave. She was brave. And I thought she was great at looking to regain the ball right away when other people lost the ball.”

And bravery is key when making an appearance for a national team at 18 years old. But as Kilgore said, Moultrie was brave, and she likely has a successful future ahead of her with the USWNT.

“One of the things I was able to get to her right before she went in, she’s obviously already been briefed tactically what we’re looking for, but just reminding her that I would not play her if she wasn’t ready,” Kilgore said. “She’s earned this and she did an incredible job going in and playing on both sides of the ball.”